- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Signed Limited Edition. edition (August 29, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393635023
- ISBN-13: 978-0393635027
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 151 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Burning Girl: A Novel Hardcover – August 29, 2017
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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
From School Library Journal
In Julia's first memory of her best friend, Cassie is standing in the middle of their preschool playground, looking like a sprite with her shiny white hair and tiny stature. From that moment on, they belong to each other. Fast-forward through years of imaginative games and adventures to the summer before seventh grade. That summer a pit bull shreds Cassie's arm, necessitating a visit to Dr. Anders Shute, who comes to play a terrible role in the girl's life. That same summer the girls discover Bonnybrook, an abandoned asylum for women. But seventh grade brings change. Cassie finds a new, wilder friend, and the girls grow apart. Julia, whose life is filled with opportunity, attempts to reconstruct the series of events that led to Cassie's ultimate tragedy, relying on hearsay and her presumption that she can still intuit her friend's thoughts and emotions. From Julia's perspective, Cassie is surrounded by danger: men driving cars in the dark, boys piling into bathrooms at parties, and the creepy Anders Shute, who married Cassie's mother. Teens who love novels taut with psychological tension will be intrigued by Cassie's downward spiral and Julia's curious role as storyteller. Much more than a tale of friendship gone awry, this dark work explores the roles we accept, those we reject, and those we thrust upon others. VERDICT A gripping coming-of-age narrative that will appeal to fans of Emma Cline's The Girls or Celeste Ng's Everything I Never Told You.—Diane Colson, formerly at City College, Gainesville, FL
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It is that story, but it can be told again and again in different contexts. I got sucked in as I read. Is it my imagination that the writing got better? Anyway, I moved from ticking off the boxes--yup, their closeness as involving imaginative invention, the gradual defection of the less privileged child, the ambivalence of the narrator, the inexplicable resistance of the less privileged (and more interesting) character to closeness with her former friend, and in the end--. Well, this isn't the place to reveal the ending. But it follows the pattern.
But Messud is a fine novelist and the characters and descriptions get more layered as the story progresses. Along the way she claims her own fictional landscape. My one quibble is that I don't find the narrator quite believable, but since Messud was widely and wrongly, I think, criticized for writing an "unsympathetic" protagonist and narrator in The Woman Upstairs, I'm reluctant to follow up on this criticism. It may be the fault of my reading.
For the record, I loved The Woman Upstairs, thought it was gutsy and aesthetically compelling of the author to have given us a passive, insecure protagonist. What is incredible to me is that so many readers thought she was somehow wrong to do so.
Most girls grow up experiencing all the glory, villainous, fearful, treacherous feelings,Juju explains in this,narrative about how it feels to be a young woman aware of her periphery life as a female growing up. Its heartache, the strange power achieved by simply growing into womanhood, along with the ever present sinister fears we have all felt as vulnerable females in a,world dominated by the physically bigger and stronger males that make up our lives. Not because we are weak, but possibly because we are strong but our bodies are physically smaller than men . If I could sum this story up.
, it's not so much about the events that take place as it is the transformation that takes place inside Juju as,she begins to understand the workings of our world.
A sort of modern day Tree Grows in Brooklyn, it is a,story about a girl and how it feels to become a,woman .
Book picked up when characters reach high school. I would have abandoned earlier though, but was on vacation and had no other book to turn to.
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