Melanie Thernstrom's new book, Halfway Heaven, tells the distressing tale of two roommates, both Harvard University undergraduates, and the brutal crime that made them the focus of a media frenzy. It is a thoughtful and compelling investigation into why Sinedu Tadesse, an Ethiopian student who had once tried to enroll in the author's class, killed her roommate, Trang Phuong Ho, and then took her own life.
The two pre-med students had lived together for two years, but during the second semester of their junior year, Trang informed Sinedu that she had chosen new roommates for her final year. On the day they were to move out of their residence, Sinedu awoke early and proceeded to stab a sleeping Trang forty-five times before hanging herself in her dormitory bathroom.
How could something like this happen at an institution like Harvard? Why did no one see the warning signs that were so clearly evident? Thernstrom delves into this mystery with compassion and the result is a powerful and chilling story.
In this issue of Bold Type, Thernstrom writes about what it is like for immigrants to come to America. An excerpt from Halfway Heaven and a letter Sinedu sent to strangers picked at random from a phone book demonstrate the power of this story. Plus, listen to an exclusive audio reading by the author as she reads Sinedu's eerie cry for help.
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Photo of Melanie Thernstrom © copyright Marc Raboy