Friday, September 26, 2014

Conversion by Katherine Howe

Conversion by Katherine Howe

Colleen is starting her senior year at a prestigious prep school in Massachusetts. Like most overachieving high school seniors she's completely stressed out with college applications, AP exams, etc, plus she's in the running to be valedictorian. 

On the first day of the new semester, one of Colleen's classmates mysteriously collapses in class. Pretty soon, more of the senior girls start contracting this mysterious illness – each has different symptoms: one  loses all her hair, another loses the ability to walk, and another has a Tourette's-like tic, where she randomly emits a high pitched screech. 

Of course, the media and public health officials get involved, but Colleen and her friends try to continue their normal lives (schoolwork, friend-drama, boyfriends...).  The media especially plays an interesting role in the novel, as it infringes on the girls' lives and influences their perceptions of the events that unfold.

There are obvious parallels to The Crucible (which Colleen just happens to be reading for history class), and astute readers may figure out what's going on before Colleen does.  

If you enjoy Conversion, you may want to check out other teen novels about the Salem Witch trials, such as, A Break with Charity by Ann Rinaldi, or for another teen novel with connections to a classic work of literature, check out Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Author Katherine Howe has also written an adult novel on the Salem Witch Trials - The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, which I plan to read soon.  

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