❋ ❋ ❋
All the girls at St. Joan's Academy in Danvers, Massachusetts are under a lot of stress senior year. They are all expected to hold it together until they can't any more. A mystery illness begins to spread around the class - Clara, the queen bee, develops uncontrollable tics in the middle of the day and then it seems to spread to her closest friends. Her friends develop completely different symptoms from coughing fits to hair loss. Rumors begin to spread and blossom into full blown panic. As the media descends, everyone's looking for someone to blame. Is it pollution, stress, or are they faking? Colleen, who has been reading The Crucible, realizes there was a similar outbreak in their town three hundred years ago when the town was called Salem Village.
The most interesting part of Conversion by Katherine Howe is that the story is based on true events. Howe does a good job of connecting both past and present in the novel. I also remember seeing the news coverage of the girls in Le Roy, NY back in 2012.
Unfortunately, I had a difficult time connecting to Colleen and the other girls at St. Joan's. I think my main issue with Colleen is that she's fake, shallow, and pretentious. In conjunction, I also felt disconnected from everything else that was going on in the story. I think I would have preferred the novel to focus on either the past or the present rather than incorporating both, especially with the way it ended since it didn't seem to fit.
I listened to this audiobook from August 26 - 31, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.