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The Burning Girl: A Novel by [Claire Messud]
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The Burning Girl: A Novel Kindle Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 236 ratings

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Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of September 2017: Claire Messud’s seventh novel, The Burning Girl, may be to adolescent girlhood what The Catcher in the Rye was to generations of boys. It’s one of those novels that seems to encompass all that is important about that intense period of life and love, despite being narrow in scope. Told in the first person by Julia, a young teenager living in a small town outside Boston, there is as much passion here as in like Romeo and Juliet, but the loves at stake are more varied and less certain. Her relationship with her mother, her attraction to a boy at school, and centrally, her childhood friendship with reckless, beautiful Cassie, all prove to be subject to change. Messud’s great theme is mutability; the way that change represents freedom, but also threatens us with loss. In its happiest moments, Cassie and Julia’s friendship allows them to be anyone at all. Too soon, though, the girls’ play becomes constrained by social forces, among them, the power of stories – stories about girls and what can happen to them – and what power they might have over those narratives. Echoes of Greek myths and fairy tales remind readers that Julia’s concerns are ages old, and resonate far beyond her suburban milieu. This is a moving, serious book which I’m recommending to all the women I know – and will be giving to my own teenage daughter in the hopes that this story about stories will help her question, and create, her own. --Sarah Harrison Smith, Amazon Book Review --This text refers to the hardcover edition.


"The friendship of two girls, Julia and Cassie, animates this slim, dreamlike novel…Messud plays, lightly, with familiar archetypes, deftly abstracting her take so that it flares into myth."
The New Yorker

"[Messud] is an absolute master storyteller and bafflingly good writer…It is that combination of imagination and skill that makes The Burning Girl exceptional…It amplifies that subtle, piercing shift between Cassie and Julia, made brighter by passages of sheer splendorous prose."
Rebecca Carroll, Los Angeles Times

"[A] masterwork of psychological fiction…Messud teases readers with a psychological mystery, withholding information and then cannily parceling it out."
Julia Klein, Chicago Tribune

"Ms. Messud is at her most incisive in exploring the volatile transition from childhood to adolescence."
Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal

"Messud is psychologically astute about her characters and about the competing social and familial pressures…that make adolescent friendship and its dissolution so fraught."
Boston Globe

"[Messud] has specialized in creating unusual female characters with ferocious, imaginative inner lives…Long before the recent success of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan tetralogy, which tells of the complex, often vexed, lifelong friendship between two women, Messud was narrating these stories with an unusual intensity―and quietly making a case for women’s interiority as a subject worthy of the most serious examination."
Ruth Franklin, New York Times Magazine

"Messud is committed to the deep emotional excavation of her characters, revealing and exploring the complex inner impulses that fuel their stories…the author's prose and insights are breathtaking…With this novel, Messud brings her own particular brand of astuteness and emotional intelligence through her careful and thoughtful prose."
San Francisco Chronicle

"The kind of book more common in the middle of the twentieth century than it is today; novels written for adults in the first-person voice of a child or adolescent but entirely accessible to readers of their protagonists’ age. You’ll know the ones I mean, school classics like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the RyeThe Burning Girl has a more sophisticated structure, in its unobtrusive handling of the relation between its narrative voice and Julia’s younger self, and its moral complexities seem greater too."
Michael Gorra, New York Review of Books

"Slim but impactful…The Burning Girl asks how well we can ever know our closest confidants and answers its own question with every refined page."
Vanity Fair

"[An] intense coming-of-age novel. . . . Messud captures the complicated nature of contemporary adolescence through a nuanced portrait of childhood love and loyalty deteriorating under the pressure of approaching adulthood."
Jane Ciabattari, BBC --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B06XH4WFB1
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (August 29, 2017)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ August 29, 2017
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 718 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 248 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    3.6 out of 5 stars 236 ratings

Customer reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5
236 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on September 24, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on September 26, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on September 7, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on November 6, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on September 29, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on October 3, 2017
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Top reviews from other countries

Mrs. M. G. Clarke
5.0 out of 5 stars good book club read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 15, 2018
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3.0 out of 5 stars Two and a half stars, not recommended
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 27, 2017
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3.0 out of 5 stars An impressive read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 14, 2018
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3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 16, 2018
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Fly Me to the Moon
4.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't stop reading it
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 22, 2017
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