The Burning Girl by Claire Messud
A Novel

64%

5 Critic Reviews

But “The Burning Girl” is an oddly distant novel. Its tone is formal and ultimately unconvincing...This is the first of Messud’s novels that didn’t, on a regular basis, flood my veins with pleasure.
-NY Times

Synopsis

A bracing, hypnotic coming-of-age story about the bond of best friends, from the New York Times best-selling author of The Emperor’s Children.

Julia and Cassie have been friends since nursery school. They have shared everything, including their desire to escape the stifling limitations of their birthplace, the quiet town of Royston, Massachusetts. But as the two girls enter adolescence, their paths diverge and Cassie sets out on a journey that will put her life in danger and shatter her oldest friendship. The Burning Girl is a complex examination of the stories we tell ourselves about youth and friendship, and straddles, expertly, childhood’s imaginary worlds and painful adult reality―crafting a true, immediate portrait of female adolescence.

Claire Messud, one of our finest novelists, is as accomplished at weaving a compelling fictional world as she is at asking the big questions: To what extent can we know ourselves and others? What are the stories we create to comprehend our lives and relationships? Brilliantly mixing fable and coming-of-age tale, The Burning Girl gets to the heart of these matters in an absolutely irresistible way.

 

About Claire Messud

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Claire Messud's most recent novel, The Emperor's Children, was a New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post Best Book of the Year. Her first novel, When the World Was Steady, and her book of novellas, The Hunters, were both finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award; and her second novel, The Last Life, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and Editor's Choice at The Village Voice. All four books were named New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Messud has been awarded Guggenheim and Radcliffe Fellowships and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and children.
 
Published August 29, 2017 by W. W. Norton & Company. 248 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Burning Girl
All: 5 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Excellent
on Jun 05 2017

That stark worldview only slowly becomes apparent in a narrative that for a long time seems more overwrought than events call for (it is, after all, narrated by a teenager), but by the novel’s closing pages it packs an emotional wallop. Emotionally intense and quietly haunting.

Read Full Review of The Burning Girl: A Novel | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Journal of Books

Below average
Reviewed by Ariel Balter on Aug 28 2017

Claire Messud is undoubtedly a deeply skilled writer and storyteller. The Burning Girl is certainly a competent addition to the girl friendship novels, coming-of-age stories, and reminiscences of lost youth and friendship, but it is not poignant, powerful, or memorable enough for such a genre and such a story.

Read Full Review of The Burning Girl: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

NPR

Good
Reviewed by Annalisa Quinn on Aug 31 2017

...The Burning Girl is instead a subversive commentary on the stories we tell about women and the ways those stories circumscribe our lives.

Read Full Review of The Burning Girl: A Novel | See more reviews from NPR

LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Rebecca Carroll on Aug 24 2017

It is that combination of imagination and skill that makes “The Burning Girl” exceptional, more so than the story itself, which sometimes veers into the ordinary and unexamined.

Read Full Review of The Burning Girl: A Novel | See more reviews from LA Times

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on Aug 21 2017

But “The Burning Girl” is an oddly distant novel. Its tone is formal and ultimately unconvincing...This is the first of Messud’s novels that didn’t, on a regular basis, flood my veins with pleasure.

Read Full Review of The Burning Girl: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times

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