For my “book recommended by someone you just met” I walked into Barnes and Noble and asked the first employee I saw. He was probably in his early twenties and his name was Tristan. My only caveats were that I needed a book I hadn’t read before, and a book that wasn’t in the middle of a series. He first recommended Troublemaker by Leah Remini, but I already had that on hold from the library for my ‘book written by a celebrity” so I asked for another. He lead me to the YA section and handed me Conversion by Katherine Howe.

I used to teach HS English, so this book was right up my alley. Girls at a boarding school start to have mysterious illnesses ranging from verbal/facial tics, hair loss, headaches, coughing up pins!!!, etc. The girls just recently read The Crucible, also. In between modern day chapters, we meet Ann Putnam, in Salem, while she tells her story and involvement in the Salem Witch Trials.

This book *should* have been really great. It had all the right ideas. But I just never could get into it. The mystery disease is thought to be one thing, then another, then another, and finally a diagnosis is given. However, you are never fully sure that an illness is truly behind all the girls’ ailments. This story does take place in Danvers, Mass, formerly known as Salem.

And at the very end the author’s note is where I was completely irritated. This story isn’t her own. Not that she plagiarized or anything, but a case like this really happened a few years ago. She pulled details from that news story and made a fictionalized account merging the current story with the Salem story. I’m not a fan of ripped from the headlines Law & Order. It feels too much like fan fiction for the real world. And this book felt much like the same.


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