Review: The Burning Girl by Claire Messud

The Burning Girl is a story of two young girls, Julia, the narrator, and Cassie—best friends since kindergarten—on the verge of becoming teenagers. The story opens with Julia reflecting back on Cassie – who we are told has moved over two years ago now. But more than just a friend moving away, it is known through Julia’s reflection that it is more than that – something tragic. 

“I can’t lie in the sun on the boulders at the quarry’s edge, or dangle my toes in the cold, clear water, or hear other girls singing, without being aware the whole time that Cassie is gone. And then I want to say something – but you can’t, you know. It’s like she never existed.”  

From the beginning you know something has happened, but you don’t know what. 

The Burning Girl is so perfectly written and paced that you don’t want to speed through and get to the end to figure out what that something is. Messud’s writing makes you appreciate the journey more than the destination. 

The Burning Girl is an amazing story both  engrossing and beautifully written.

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. Author of six works of fiction including her most recent novel, The Burning Girl, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her family. 

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