The Burning Girl

A Novel

Claire Messud (Author)


A bracing, hypnotic coming-of-age story about the bond of best friends, from the New York Times best-selling author of The Emperor’s Children.

Julia and Cassie have been friends since nursery school. They have shared everything, including their desire to escape the stifling limitations of their birthplace, the quiet town of Royston, Massachusetts. But as the two girls enter adolescence, their paths diverge and Cassie sets out on a journey that will put her life in danger and shatter her oldest friendship. The Burning Girl is a complex examination of the stories we tell ourselves about youth and friendship, and straddles, expertly, childhood’s imaginary worlds and painful adult reality—crafting a true, immediate portrait of female adolescence.

Claire Messud, one of our finest novelists, is as accomplished at weaving a compelling fictional world as she is at asking the big questions: To what extent can we know ourselves and others? What are the stories we create to comprehend our lives and relationships? Brilliantly mixing fable and coming-of-age tale, The Burning Girl gets to the heart of these matters in an absolutely irresistible way.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • Forthcoming August 2017
  • ISBN 978-0-393-63502-7
  • 5.8 × 8.6 in / 256 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Endorsements & Reviews

“Claire Messud is one of our foremost chroniclers of women's hidden appetites.” — Ruth Franklin, New York Times Magazine

“Slim but impactful . . . . The Burning Girl asks how well we can ever know our closest confidants and answers its own question with every refined page.” — Vanity Fair

“[An] intense coming-of-age novel. . . . Messud captures the complicated nature of contemporary adolescence through a nuanced portrait of childhood love and loyalty deteriorating under the pressure of approaching adulthood.” — Jane Ciabattari, BBC

“Spectacular.” — Glamour

“Claire Messud nails it.” — Elle

“[A] meditation on female friendship.” — New York Magazine

“Messud’s entrancing, gorgeously incisive coming-of-age drama astutely tracks the sharpening perceptions of an exceptionally eloquent young woman navigating heartbreak and regret and realizing that one can never fathom ‘the wild, unknowable interior lives’ of others, not even someone you love.” — Booklist, starred review

“Emotionally intense and quietly haunting.” — Kirkus, starred review

“Messud shines a tender gaze on her protagonists and sustains an elegiac tone as she conveys the volatile emotions of adolescent behavior and the dawning of female vulnerability. . . . Informed by the same sophisticated intelligence and elegant prose [as The Woman Upstairs], but gaining new poignant depths, this novel is haunting and emotionally gripping.” — Publishers Weekly

“[Messud] displays uncommon skill in depicting the conflicting interests and emotions of the tween years. . . . [T]he narrative has broad appeal for teens and adults alike.” — Library Journal

Also by Claire Messud All

  1. Book CoverWhen the World Was Steady: A Novel


All Subjects