Giveaway: THE BURNING GIRL (US Only)
The Burning Girl (US Only)
by: Claire Messud
Release Date: August 29, 2017
Publisher: W.W. Norton
About the Book:
Highly acclaimed and best-selling author Claire Messud has effortlessly captured her readers’ attention in memorable novels such as The Emperor’s Children and The Woman Upstairs. The New York Times Book Review has described Messud’s writing as “exhilarating . . . ingenious . . . an intricate puzzle of self-belief and self-doubt.” Informed by this same fierce intelligence, insightful character development, and elegant prose, her new novel, THE BURNING GIRL [W. W. Norton & Company; August 29, 2017; $25.95], is a deceptively simple tale of a friendship between two girls and a piercing story of adolescence and identity that plumbs great emotional depths, asking “How well can we know ourselves and others?” and “What stories do we tell ourselves to fill in the blanks?”
“Each of us shapes our stories so they make sense of who we think we are,” Julia Robinson ruminates at the beginning of the novel. She’s a teenager, trying to piece together what happened to her friendship with Cassie Burnes: Why did their seemingly innocent friendship—forged through imaginary games and play at the quarry and at the abandoned asylum over many summers when they were young—begin to unravel?
Messud profoundly captures the sense of uncertainty and contingency that imbues even the deepest friendships, and how that uncertainty carries through into our self-understanding. Who would Julia be without Cassie? Who will she become? Messud immerses us in Julia’s story, and we find ourselves grappling and questioning along with her.
Julia and Cassie have very different family lives: Julia’s parents are married, calm, and stable, whereas Cassie is raised by a single mother and an absent father. Just as Cassie emerges into adolescence, her mother embarks on a romantic relationship with a strange man, which upends Cassie’s world.
There is an undercurrent of dread throughout Julia and Cassie’s story as Messud brings out the vulnerability of girls on the cusp of womanhood. Threats loom, and it’s hard to gauge the amount of danger. Is Cassie’s mother’s new boyfriend simply an awkward man with an authoritarian streak, or is he complicated and sinister? Adolescence is a precarious state, and we feel Julia’s fear and sadness as she watches her friend lurching into increasingly greater peril.
Julia and Cassie’s friendship falls apart just as both girls are beginning to establish selfhood. Whereas Julia, supported by her parents, aspires to become an actress and embraces opportunities at their school, Cassie focuses her energy on clothes and parties, even dating Julia’s longtime crush. Rumors of Cassie’s sexual escapades reach Julia, who cannot parse which stories are true, choosing to believe Cassie’s denials even when no one else does. Julia’s sense of urgency grows as Cassie becomes more ungrounded and desperate. When Cassie takes off in search of her real father, Julia realizes that she is the only person who can rescue her friend. But Julia’s great act of devotion is, to Cassie, the deepest treachery.
Young female friendship is entrancing, innocent, imaginative, formative and inspired—but can this bond survive into young adulthood? In THE BURNING GIRL, Claire Messud skillfully and masterfully mixes fable and coming-of-age tale to create a novel that resonates with universal truth; a story about how we are forged by the magic of our earliest relationships, and how we are honed by their unfathomable loss. This hypnotic coming-of-age story raises the big question: To what extent can we know ourselves and others?
About the Author:
Claire Messud is a recipient of Guggenheim and Radcliffe Fellowships and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The author of five previous works of fiction including her most recent novel, The Woman Upstairs, Messud lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her family.
Learn More: Author Website
One winner will receive a finished copy of THE BURNING GIRL.
Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced on this site and in our monthly newsletter (sign up now!) within 30 days after the giveaway ends.
During each giveaway, we ask entrants a question pertaining to the book. Here is the question they’ll be answering in the comments below for extra entries: What do you think of the cover & synopsis?
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The cover reminds me of Gone Girl.
I wasn't intrigued by the summary, but rather lost interest because it was so long. Still entering the giveaway, because it could be a really great story!
The cover is eye-catching and drew my interest to find out more. The synopsis promises friendship and family themes which I love to read.
This exploration of the stability of internal and external identity through the depiction of these girls' relationship sounds like fertile territory for Messud's awesome literary gifts. Thanks for the chance to win! -- Kara S