Author: Katherine Howe
Rating: ★★★ (3/5 Stars)
Hardcover, 402 Pages
Published July 2014
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Summary: It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t. First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic. Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .
This book was equal parts creepy and interesting. The story alternates between the point of view of Colleen Rowley in modern-day Danvers and Ann Putnam in the colonial period of Salem Village. From Ann's point of view, she explains the real story behind the Salem Witch Trails to Reverend Green, whom she trusts. She explains how it all began--how the girls were faking to get out of chores and responsibility, but eventually things took a crazy turn and the hysteria spread as they began to believe that the tricks they were playing had finally come true.
In Colleen's perspective, St. Joan's all-girls school is breaking out in a hysteria of their own. One after another, girls in her class fall sick--seizures, sudden hair loss, disuse of limbs, and even hacking up metal pins. To make it even worse, something fishy is going on with her best friend, Emma...
There's definitely a lot going on in this book, and you need to be attentive at all times, or you'll miss something important. I enjoyed this book, and it was definitely interesting to see the shift in perspective every few chapters. The ending of this book also threw me for a loop, as well as left me with some pressing questions.
What happens between Emma and Tad? Colleen and Spence? All of the other girls? I feel like the epilogue was rushed with a quick spurt of the "after" details, and nothing was in depth enough to answer any of the important, pressing questions. In one minute, everything is in chaos, and in the next, it's all explained away and everyone is happy and everything is good again.
It just doesn't add up. I was left with sooo many questions!
However, I still really enjoyed this book. Howe created a chilling novel with plenty of plot twists that kept me on the edge of my seat. The end of the story, especially the last two chapters, threw me for a loop, so make sure that when you read it, you pay attention!
All in all, Conversion was an interesting read that I enjoyed and would recommend to anybody with interest in mystery and historical fiction. :-)