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3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  1,686 ratings  ·  378 reviews
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane comes a chilling mystery—Prep meets The Crucible.

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 the...more
Hardcover, 402 pages
Published July 1st 2014 by Putnam Juvenile
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We're not even halfway through 2014, and I'm almost certain this has been my biggest 1-star year to date. True, most of it is due to the facts that, a) the more I read YA, the more my standards go up and my tolerance threshold for BS and stupidity lowers, and b) the more time I spent in GR, the less afraid I am of giving out 1 stars. I don't think it's entirely up to me, though. This year has come packed with an avalanche of pretty bad YA books. This year alone, I've read offensive books like Th...more
Allie Larkin
Witchcraft, conversion disorder? What's really happening to the girls of St. Joan's?

Katherine Howe's latest book is smart, suspenseful, and brilliantly executed. You won't be able to put it down.
I have been looking forward to this one since I first started stalking the author’s Pinterest board last year. I was so excited to see Conversion up for grabs on Netgalley, and it did not disappoint. I couldn’t put it down! Conversion is smart, yet accessible enough to appeal to young adults. It alternates between the Salem witch trials and the real-life mystery illness of early 2012 that caused a handful of girls to develop PANDAS-like symptoms. You will race through this one as you read to fin...more
So I see some pretty harsh reviews below, but I loved this book. How tells the story of a group of girls at a Catholic school who, one by one, fall ill with a mystery malady. This book is told from the point of view of one student as she navigates an intensely competitive Senior year, friendship drama, etc. etc. The confounding story of the girls at St. Joans is written right alongside a dramatization of what happened during the Salem Witchcraft trials. I thought most of the girls portrayed in t...more
3.5 stars
I've often wondered what the people of earlier times did for fun. Obviously these girls depicted here were having a lot of fun. There have been many theories posted about why the girl accused fellow Puritans. This was an entertaining read about those girls and some modern day compatriots. We never quite know what is going on with the modern day girls. Are they faking or is it caused by some evil? I thought Howe did a great job of keeping the tension as she alternated between Annie's sto...more
Emma Harvelle (Verity Reviews)
I read Conversion with three black cats on my lap, feeling very witchy (even though cats don't really have anything to do with witches traditionally), reluctant to put it down for more than five minutes at a time. I was completely and totally absorbed in Howe's book. What first piqued my interest was the Mystery Illness, and Howe delivered all the tension, unease, and fear you'd expect to find in a book about an epidemic. But Howe also incorporated Ann Putnam's account of the events at Salem in...more
This is more of a 3.5 star read. I really enjoyed jumping between times but I thought that the 2 stories would eventually come together. However, in the end, they read like two separate stories. The build up was very intense but the final conclusion was very lacking. The author tries to explain the correlation between the two narratives but I still didn't see the likeness. This had so much potential for a 5 star but the ending was just bad. I still love this author but this book missed the mark...more
Sara Grochowski
When a mysterious illness begins to afflict senior Colleen Rowley's classmates at the academically competitive St. Joan's Academy in Danvers, Massachusetts, panicked parents and hungry media swarm, armed with questions, accusations, and wild theories. Refusing to let an unknown illness jeopardize her college prospects and her rightful place at the top of her class, Colleen continues to brave the halls of St. Joan's and taking on an extra credit assignment comparing The Crucible to the real Salem...more
This was nothing like what I was expecting.

I went into this one without having read the synopsis, because I've learned that this is the best way to enter a book. I did have some vague recollection, however, of what the story might be about because of what I'd seen on YouTube. What I saw on the web was about how this would be a slightly creepy read with a touch of the paranormal. What I DIDN'T know was that this would also be one of those stories where the narrative is split into two different v...more
Aug 27, 2014 Susan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya
I heard the author speak at a local bookstore, and the story of how she got the idea for the book was fascinating. A number of girls in a town near the author's started exhibiting inexplicable symptoms. After lots of theories and probing, they were finally diagnosed with conversion disorder, or what would have been called hysteria in the olden days. I remember reading a New York Times Magazine about these girls. When the author, who was teaching The Crucible to her class at Cornell heard about t...more
Mike Cuthbert
I have always been fascinated by the psychological underpinnings of the Salem witch trials of the 17th century. The irrationality of the New England of that time and the horrific damage done to lives and reputations based on nothing much more than the ravings of teenagers has vibrated in me through various incarnations, most directly the McCarthy trials in our 50s and more recently the political rantings and ravings, mostly on the Far Right in American politics. In both cases, rational thought a...more
I love a fictional book that makes me want to look things up, to do research, and to explore the subject even further, and this book did that in spades.

Not only does this book hearken back to the good ol' Salem Witch Trials, everyone's favorite time period in 7th grade (no? Was that just me?), it touches on a very real phenomenon/disease that happened right here in NY.

While I found the interludes back to Salem a little tough to stick with (I think because I already knew most of the informatio...more
This book was a piece of shit.
Godzilla smash, angry review to come...
Barbara Kling
Odd things are happening to the girls at St Joan's School. Some display epileptic-like seizures with no previous history or medical reason; some inexplicably lose all their hair, or lose the ability to walk....what's happening? Oh, did I mention that St Joan's is in Danvers Massachutes? Formally know as Salem Massachutes?

Howe's new book for young adults is a history lesson as well as a tale of academically driven young women, trying to enjoy their teen years as priviledged teens while going afte...more
Aug 17, 2014 Emily added it
Despite having read many retellings of classic books during my years as a YA reader, Conversion was the first retelling of a historical event I have ever read. I finished it with two hopes: that I will soon be able to find another historical retelling, and that if and when I do, it will live up to this one's great precedent.

Conversion is told in an atmospheric dual-narrative—from the point of view of modern-day high schooler Colleen as well as real-life Salem Witch Trials instigator Ann Putnam—...more
I'm not really sure how, but for some wonderful reason, the publisher of this book mailed me an "advance uncorrected proof". I'll start off by saying that it seemed completely polished to me. I had my ink pen ready to help edit, if need be, but the story swept me away, and if there was anything needing corrections, it totally escaped me.

Conversion is a stand alone book, which I love. By the time you reach the end, the story is wrapped up, and you have that completed feeling. Katherine Howe has d...more
I really enjoyed reading Conversion! I loved how Katherine Howe tied in interludes from the time of The Salem Witch Trials. I especially enjoyed following the "St. Joan's Mystery Illness" , and was absolutely amazed to find that Conversion Disorder is a real illness that affects real people. I would absolutely recommend Conversion to anyone and everyone!
So what are you waiting for? Go out and read Conversion now!!!
I really enjoyed this. I thought that it was well-researched and well-written, and the main character was very likeable. In fact all of the characters came across as ordinary, imperfect people.
The two timelines blended quite well too, and I can honestly say that I was never confused or bored with what was happening.
I would definitely recommend this.
Kary Henry
Fascinating exploration of two different time periods and the stress that young girls go through in both, which was surprisingly similar.
Kieran Walsh
I really did love The Physick book of Deliverance Dane and like most people I have a macabre fascination with Salem/Witch Trials etc. Conversion takes on a similar dual story line - 1706 and 2012 but probably half way through this on I realized that this really is a young adult book. It was a bit of a downer, honestly, when I realized that because, while the genre is in no way inferior, I knew the end would be boxed up nicely and all would be ok in the world……and indeed I was right.
The stories...more
The seniors at St. Joan's private girls' academy are in a tizzy, preparing for college and watching their GPA's carefully. Before winter break, their history teacher assigned them to read “The Crucible”, by Arthur Miller, a play about the Salem witch trials. Interestingly enough, St. Joan's is in Danvers, Massachusetts – the former site of Salem Village! When the girls return after the holidays, their history teacher is mysteriously gone, and the new teacher scraps the assignment for new lesson...more
Brandi Young
I think the most interesting part of this whole book is that both parts (past and present) are based on true stories.

Colleen and her friends attend a private Catholic high school where their group is not only concerned with the normal teenaged girl stuff (boys, drama, family) but also they are super grade driven. In fact, Colleen is within a tenth of a point against another girl to be valedictorian. Then strange things start happening, the same day their AP History teacher, Mr. Mitchell disappe...more
Ms. Feigen's English 9 Classes Feigen
Conversion is a fiction book written by Katherine Howe. Many people say her inspriation to write this was to give teen girls something intresting to read but I say she was inspired by the true events that happened in the seventeenth century. I assume her intended audience was targerted towards teen girls but, I think many people who are intrested in the old tales of whitches and spells. Katherine's purpose for this book was, I think, to entertain teenage kids with an intresting book that keeps p...more
Kelly Hager
This book was one of the most fun reading experiences ever. (And also creepy, because apparently this is based on true events---not just the Salem witch trials but the more recent afflictions, which somehow I managed to not hear about.)

I read Katherine Howe's first book, The Physick Book Of Deliverance Dane, and absolutely loved it so I was delighted to see that she'd written another book and even happier to see that it was YA and a reimagining of The Crucible. (This book is a good one to get p...more

I won this book in a first reads drawing. So I patiently watched the mailbox and soon as I had it. I dived right in. Now this book flips back and forth from present to the future. Don't worry this happens very smoothly and shows off the great writing by being able to do this. I liked the whole Salem/ present day triangle it was integrated Well into the plot such great thinking.The author has kept this mystery tightly woven and tucked away so solving it right out the gate is not gonna be happenin...more
In Katherine Howe’s Conversion, the storyline switches back and forth between two accounts of young women experiencing unusual, unexplainable physical symptoms. In the present, students in Colleen’s all-girls private school start getting sick with a variety of illnesses—uncontrollable tics, Tourette’s-like verbal outbursts, hair loss, paralysis—leaving her puzzled and searching for answers regarding what’s happening. In the past, Ann Putnam, one of the afflicted girls during the Salem witch tria...more
ok, so, the reason I picked this book up in the first place was solely for the fact that it was set in Danvers, Massachusetts which is a near where I grew up. Also it's about the Salem Witch Trials and that has always been an interest of mine being from Massachusetts. But the book itself was a lot different from what I originally expected. The synopsis is that a bunch of girls at an elite private Catholic school in Danvers come down with wierd ticks and unexplainable behaviors. Sounds interestin...more
Conversion is a brilliant cross between historical fiction and paranormal. Howe blended together intense research and her powerful writing style to capture readers and draw them into the mystery of St. Joan’s Academy. I liked Colleen; she wanted there to be something supernatural going on because she couldn’t fathom that it was due to academic pressure. Our schools have the same level of rigor and overwhelming expectations, so I understood that for the Mystery Illness to be from school stress it...more
Priscilla Herrington
Fans of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane will be happy to hear that Katherine Howe has returned to the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria as a theme in her latest book. Conversion is set in 2012 at St. Joan's, an elite Catholic girls school in Danvers MA; there are Interludes in Salem Village 1706, and flashbacks to 1691.

Howe has woven together contemporary and historical events to produce a plausible story of adolescent girls under pressure. The modern day scenes feel very current, with teens consta...more
Wow! I loved everything about this book. But, here are my two favorite things about Conversion. First, it addresses the pressures we put on girls and women - both historically and currently. If you grew up in a family where "good enough" was never really "good enough," if you're a mom who works full time and then comes home to cook, clean, grocery shop, kiss boo-boos and make them better, and read bedtime stories, then you know what I mean. And second, Howe does a really great job of subtly dest...more
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Katherine Howe is the author of THE PHYSICK BOOK OF DELIVERANCE DANE, which debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, was named one of USA Today's top ten books of 2009, and which has been translated into over twenty languages. In 2012 she hosted the Expedition Week special "Salem: Unmasking the Devil" on the National Geographic Channel.

Her second novel, a historical thriller set in Bos...more
More about Katherine Howe...
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane The House of Velvet and Glass The Penguin Book of Witches The House of the Seven Gables

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