Book Review: Conversion by Katherine Howe

Release Date: June 16, 2015
Publisher: Speak
Format: Paperback
Pages: 432 pages
Genre:  YA, Fiction, Depression
Buy: Kindle | Paperback | 


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.

Everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? 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


A modern take on the Crucible.  This book flips back and forth between modern day and the days during the Witch Trials.  While the Crucible wasn't really about the Salem Witch Trials it does show how hysteria and lack of attention can drive people to make claims that aren't true, and have people follow based on to fear and misunderstanding.

The story takes place at an exclusive girls school where several students are falling sick and the community is anxious for a reason behind it.  As more and more girls fall sick and the media attention explodes some take advantage of their new found fame and others find a way to use the illness to launch their own agenda but what is really causing all these girls to get sick?

The mind is a powerful weapon, against us and against society.  J Edgar Hoover went on a hunt for communists, people today are on the hunt for terrorists behind every door but maybe we need to look closer at what is really scaring us...change, feeling insignificant, out of control? This book could spur a lot of discussion if you really delve into it.  I think it would make a great book club book or even a good book to be taught in a classroom.

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