Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down by Anne Valente
A Novel

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Synopsis

One of Refinery29's Best Reads for October

One of Plougshares "Most Necessary Books for the End of 2016"

The lives of four teenagers are capsized by a shocking school shooting and its aftermath in this powerful debut novel, a coming-of-age story with the haunting power of Station Eleven and the bittersweet poignancy of Everything I Never Told You.

As members of the yearbook committee, Nick, Zola, Matt, and Christina are eager to capture all the memorable moments of their junior year at Lewis and Clark High School—the plays and football games, dances and fund-drives, teachers and classes that are the epicenter of their teenage lives. But how do you document a horrific tragedy—a deadly school shooting by a classmate?

Struggling to comprehend this cataclysmic event—and propelled by a sense of responsibility to the town, their parents, and their school—these four "lucky" survivors vow to honor the memories of those lost, and also, the memories forgotten in the shadow of violence. But the shooting is only the first inexplicable trauma to rock their small suburban St. Louis town. A series of mysterious house fires have hit the families of the victims one by one, pushing the grieving town to the edge.

Nick, the son of the lead detective investigating the events, plunges into the case on his own, scouring the Internet to uncover what could cause a fire with no evident starting point. As their friend pulls farther away, Matt and Christina battle to save damaged relationships, while Zola fights to keep herself together.

A story of grief, community, and family, of the search for understanding and normalcy in the wake of devastating loss, Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down explores profound questions about resiliency, memory, and recovery that brilliantly illuminate the deepest recesses of the human heart.

 

About Anne Valente

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Anne Valente is the author of the story collection By Light We Knew Our Names, which won the Dzanc Books Short Story Prize, and the fiction chapbook An Elegy for Mathematics. Her work has appeared literary journals, including in One Story, The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review; Best American Non-Required Reading 2011, and The Believer and the Washington Post. She teaches in the Creative Writing Department at Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Author Image 1
 
Published October 4, 2016 by William Morrow. 384 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down

Ploughshares Literary Magazine

Anne Valente’s debut novel, Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down, does not begin with the shattering moment when Caleb Raynor enters Lewis and Clark High School and opens fire—a moment that surely warrants the dimming of the lights, the rising of a curtain.

Oct 30 2016 | Read Full Review of Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down:...
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