Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Sourcebooks. To be published April 7, 2020. 352 p. (Includes “Author’s note,” and “Discussion questions and Conversation starters.”)
After the death of her father, in the middle of the school year, Anna and her mom moved to a 400 year-old house in Scotland to start a new life, where she fervently hopes her old life will recede into the past. After spending time blending in at school she meets new friends, and gets involved in researching a history project about Maggie, a local girl accused of witchcraft in the 1600’s. She finds a silver necklace in her attic and starts to dream Maggie’s memories, learning things about her that aren’t in research books. At first she’s frightened because of the realistic scenes, but soon realizes Maggie’s story has to be told.
While learning more about Maggie fills her free time, the new life she’d started for herself at school starts to unravel when the real reason she left England in the middle of the school year becomes known. Soon constant sexual harassment and cyberbullyingthreaten to put her over the edge. When she learns to draw on her own strength, and that of other strong women like Maggie, Anna is finally able to accept herself, to speak truth about herself, and to know it to be so.
This book was powerful, and had me hooked from the very beginning. At times teachers not caring to respond to situations right in front of them aggravated me. When that happened I had to put the book down and walk away in frustration, reminding myself that there are good ones mixed with the bad.
“The burning” is the #metoo movement and Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Shout” rolled into one. I believe all teenagers (male and female) and all adults should have this on their “must read” shelves. It would make an excellent book club book to openly discuss sexual harassment and the effects of cyberbullying. A copy should be in every public and high school library.
Highly recommended for ages 16 and older.
I received an advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.