BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

The Burning Girl by Claire Messud [in Library Journal]

Julia Robinson and Cassie Burnes found each other at age 4 in the middle of the nursery school playground, but their glorious best friendship crumbles when they’re middle schoolers. Julia, with her supportive parents and a stable home, watches as Cassie, the only child of a capricious single mother, is tempted away by boys, parties, and drinking.

By high school, the rift solidifies, and Julia – despite still mourning the fading relationship – finds her social footing with new friends and college-bound intentions. Cassie’s downward spiral continues, exacerbated by her mother’s new live-in lover, an emergency room doctor who treated Cassie years earlier for a canine attack when the girls were animal shelter volunteers. His creepiness hasn’t abated, and his presence in Cassie’s home unsettles the already tenuous balance.

With a finely tuned teenage range that can move instantly from malaise to angst, narrator Morgan Hallett wavers affectingly between controlled and desperate, content and frenzied, resigned and mocking. Although the differentiation between Julia and Cassie could have been more distinct, Hallett nevertheless manifests Messud’s (The Emperor’s Children) coming-of-age latest with cogent presentation.

Review: “Messud in Multiple,” Library Journal, May 30, 2018

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2017


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