Synopsis: It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.
First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.
Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .
Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s?
Why I Chose This Book:
First Impression: Intriguing cover. What does the yellow bird mean? The thorny branch gave off a feeling of danger and mystery without being too cliche. I really liked this cover.
What I Liked: I’d never heard of the confession that came years after the Salem Witch Trials and revealed everything to be a prank. It was very interesting to read. I also didn’t know about the Mystery Illness of 2012, so this book showed brand new history to me, both older and recent. I liked that we didn’t get a straight answer at the end. It felt very real.
What I Didn’t Like: The two narratives didn’t mesh well to me. I think the stories would have been better as two separate novels or maybe if it had been written by someone more YA-oriented? It could have been 100 pages shorter and had a much stronger impact instead of dragging on. There’s a taboo relationship that almost felt condoned by the author/plot. Colleen felt like someone trying too hard to be a teenager.
Ratings and Recommendations: I honestly don’t know? I’m still trying to figure out how I feel.
Final Thoughts: I really needed to read this with a book club so I had a group of people to help me figure out what I thought of it. I went back and forth on so many aspects, that I don’t know how many stars to give or who should read it or anything. I’m very conflicted with this book.
Sound off in the comments: Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know!