Like many, I decided to read Andrea Seigel’s To Feel Stuff after hearing about it on Starlee Kine’s new podcast, Mystery Show (aka one of my new favorite podcasts, because it’s hosted by one of my favorite radio journalists and she’s adorably hilarious). I was in a place where I had nothing to really read after finishing my last book club book (And The Mountains Echoed), and threw it onto my library hold list. I got it pretty soon after requesting it and dove right in.
In the Mystery Show episode that features Seigel’s mystery, she talks about how poorly To Feel Stuff was received. So it wasn’t like I went into this with a raving review to back it up or anything. And ultimately it wasn’t as bad as I expected it would be from the way she spoke about it—it was just anticlimactic and a bit boring. The premise surrounded a girl, Elodie, that was perpetually living in her university’s infirmary (yet never doing ANY school work despite attending Brown) who is riddled with disease after disease (two of which must have been pessimism and antisocial proclivities—ayo!). Eventually Elodie falls in love with a guy in the infirmary, Chess, who is well off and thinks he’s a lot cooler than he actually is, if the name wasn’t a clichè indication. Elodie, who I imagine as an antisocial goth girl, and her preppy frat boyfriend obviously breakup, which is pretty anticlimactic as far as college breakups go. He kind of just leaves the infirmary after his injuries heal and writes an overly eloquent breakup letter that she reads and mourns for about a day, despite him being the love of her life or whatever.
The weirdest part of the novel is the doctor who works directly with Elodie. He mentions multiple times how he isn’t interested in his patient in a romantic way, OKAY?, so just stop inferring that everyone, GEEZ. He decides to conduct a very informal study on her, bringing her to his house for meetings at times, to figure out just what the heck is going on with this girl. Well as it turns out, she’s seeing ghosts. But not normal ghosts—ghosts of premonitions, actually. And that’s the end. No, seriously. That’s the end of the novel. They discover that she’s seeing ghosts of future people, which is actually only one future ghost person, and somehow an onslaught of intense diseases is a symptom of that.
I guess the lesson to take away here is that if you find yourself suddenly suffering from an array of weird diseases that you have no family history of, then watch out for ghosts in your near future. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.