Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down” as Want to Read:
Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down

3.12  ·  Rating details ·  484 ratings  ·  130 reviews
The lives of four teenagers are capsized by a shocking school shooting and its aftermath in this powerful debut novel, a coming of age story with the haunting power of Station Eleven and the bittersweet poignancy of Everything I Never Told You.

As members of the yearbook committee, Nick, Zola, Matt, and Christina struggle to capture all the memorable moments of their junior
ebook, 384 pages
Published October 4th 2016 by William Morrow
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down, please sign up.
Recent Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  484 ratings  ·  130 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Catherine ♡
Actual Rating: 3.75

This book is so hard to review, for so many different reasons. Firstly, I love that this book (kind of) addresses the about school shootings - something that has been plaguing America in recent years and definitely needs to be discussed more.

Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down describes the aftermath of a mass school shooting. It follows Nick, Zola, Matt, and Christina, as they all struggle to deal with the scars that they will have for the rest of their lives. But it's not over. One
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
I really struggled to finish this book, I was very close to DNF but I guess I was curious and stuck with it even though I was skimming through it by the end. First of all, the story is very disturbing: the aftermath of a high school shooting, the horrendous images and sounds that haunt the survivors- it really is terrifying and very depressing. Then the whole community's grief, only made worse by a series of seemingly unexplainable fires. It was just too much- layer upon layer upon layer of deat ...more
3.5 stars. This book was a very intense and disturbing read for me. There is a mass killing at a high school. As the shooter makes his way through the hallways four juniors on the yearbook team take refuge under desks, behind doors, hoping the gunman doesn't target them. In the aftermath of the shootings these four students try to come to terms with what they saw and how do they now go on with everyday life. In addition to the mass shooting the houses and occupants of the deceased teens are burn ...more
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
3.5 stars Valente's writing was thoughtful and beautiful while describing some truly horrific events surrounding a school shooting. I found it a hard but important read. Thanks to Goodreads' First Reads, I received an uncorrected proof copy of this novel.
Joce (squibblesreads)
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.75 stars. So heartbreaking and the writing is UNF.
MJ Nicholls
Aug 16, 2017 marked it as getting-even
Is this the most chunderous book title ever penned? Or is it this author’s previous, By Light We Knew Our Names? There is something about that first-person plural that makes me recoil at the cloying horror . . .
 Megan • Reading Books Like a Boss (book blog)

OUR HEARTS WILL BURN US DOWN is a poignant portrait of grief, told in the collective voice through the eyes of four best friends after a mass school shooting. While the story was not poorly written, the writing style was distracting at times, the novel was lacking in character development, and the mystery woven throughout was ultimately unfulfilling.

I can understand the publisher's comparison to Station Eleven, one of my favorite novels, albeit a weak one. Zola, Matt, Nick, and Christina are
Britta Böhler
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I barely finished this. The beginning of the book was the school shooting, but that was just the first chapter or two. The rest was about four friends who work on the yearbook staff and it skips around from each of their points of view. They all sounded exactly the same. Not much character development and not much story left after the shooting.
Acacia Ives
This book had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I read it in one sitting which was a saying of seven or eight hours in the middle of the night and I didn't get to bed until two or 3 AM because of the book it was incredible it was wonderful it was dark and twisted but it was really really important and he will hear more about it on my channel for sure
May 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
I can't believe I struggled through this mess of jangling sentence fragments and plot holes to see how this writer planned to resolve the mysteries, only to discover she never had any intention of doing so.
Jan 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book, oy. I’ve read a lot of school-violence themed books since reading the nonfiction book Columbine. Most of them are insightful explorations of the topic that delve into the emotional struggles and triumphs of those who survive. Not this book. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who happens on this review, but I was livid at the conclusion. I literally yelled, “You have got to be fucking kidding me!” In traffic. The people in the next car stared. It was awkward. Just no.
Jan 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Belinda Missen
May 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
A copy of this book was generously provided by Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Where do you even begin with a book like this? Imagine you're at school. A normal day like any other and, in the blink of an eye, a number of your fellow students, friends, teachers, are taken. No chance to say goodbye, and no chance to grow old and drift apart as we often do from those we went to school with.

That's exactly what happens here. We're treated to the story of four friends, students, all of w
Kelsey Schulz
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
As members of the yearbook committee, Nick, Zola, Matt, and Christina are eager to capture all the memorable moments of their junior year at Lewis and Clark High School—the plays and football games, dances and fund-drives, teachers and classes that are the epicenter of their teenage lives. But how do you document a horrific tragedy—a deadly school shooting by a classmate?

It’s October 8, 2003 when loner, Caleb Raynor, enters Lewis and Clark High School in a suburb of St. Louis and kills 35 people
A book about the aftermath of a school shooting could have been interesting. There was also a mystery involving fires destroying the houses of the shooting victims. Unfortunately, I found the writing style so unbearable that I will never find out who set the fires. It was very repetitive and full of sentence fragments. This was not for me and I doubt that I would try this author again. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Nov 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Any book about a school shooting would be a difficult read, but I thought this book was amazing in its ability to describe the impact of such an event on the lives of all involved. I thought it was difficult and heartbreaking and tremendous.

As someone who grew up attending high school in St. Louis, I have to say that the author captured that experience so perfectly that I was immensely moved by her descriptions of it.
Diana Iozzia (Bookworm Banter)
“Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down”
Written by Anne Valente
Review written by Diana Iozzia

I have to give myself a lot of credit for being able to get through this book. I always feel a bit unkind for writing negative reviews, but I just didn’t enjoy the book. As this hobby goes, I come across great books and I come across books I just don’t want to finish. This book took me four days to get through, and honestly, I’m surprised I finished it that quickly. Some books I can finish in two hours. Picking up
Chris Blocker
Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down shows so much exceptional writing. Valente is clearly a talented writer with great ideas. The plot of this novel is a solid idea. The prose is beautiful at times. And yet the whole novel is such a great disappointment. I hate to say it as there are novels that are horrible in so many ways and this work does not belong among them. Yet, I didn’t enjoy Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down at all.

This novel just has too many quirks to succeed. The narrative constantly delves in
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
The premise had me more than intrigued. I made it to about the halfway point but I just could not continue. Although I liked the characters to that point, the writing style was a bit clunky for my taste. It made it difficult to keep all the characters straight and I just couldn't follow the flow. Others may like the writing style but I found myself at odds with it and struggling through each page. I would have liked to see it through and have seen how it concludes but I after more than 2 weeks s ...more
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was not a fan of this book due to the strong focus on how the characters felt and the lack of a plot. I didn't like that the shooter remained a mysterious, unknown villain the entire time however it is realistic that in the aftermath of a school shooting, not everyone will be able to answer the question of why everything happened. That being said, this combined with the unsolved mystery at the end made me wanting some concrete antagonist to dislike but there was none.

The narrative style was di
Nov 06, 2016 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: teenagers, maybe?
Shelves: won-giveaways
I guess I just need to stop reading books about teenagers completely. It's entirely possible the low rating here is largely because of personal bias. But I thought this book, centered around a high school mass shooting and subsequent related house fires, was potentially a book for adults. But it was not--at least, not for this adult. Maybe it's because I'm a half a life removed from the sixteen year old main characters, but I really think this book could've cut about half of the content right ou ...more
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erin Cataldi
Heartbreaking and painful, but beautifully rendered, this novel of a school shooting and it's aftermath through the eyes of four students will have readers hooked. Alternatively told through the omniscient "we" and through individual lenses of four yearbook club staffers, the whole story is slowly pieced together, where each of them were in the building, how they were affected, how they grieved, and how they came together to try and chronicle an indescribable event. As if the aftermath of the sh ...more
Paul Byrne
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very interesting look at the aftermath of a fictional school shooting. It focuses on the people left alive and the impacts it has on their lives and relationships. I found the relationship between one character and his father very touching and the dynamics between the four main characters kept me locked into the story.
I felt the house fire storyline was an attempt to add physical drama that wasn't needed I would have liked more character and less mystery about arson. The twist at the end was not
Oct 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads-arc
Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down follows four teens and their struggle dealing with a school shooting while assembling their high school yearbook. There is also an added mystery surrounding a rash of house fires that follow the shooting.

I felt sad while reading this but at the same time I felt removed from the situation, as if I were reading a news article. There is clinical information about house fires and added details about world events that I felt took away from the story. This book also has
Anne Valentes short story collection By Light We Knew Our Names is one of my all time favorite books, so as soon as I heard that she was coming out with a novel I got very exited. The story focuses on four friends who work together on their high school year book and how their town faces tragedies beyond imagining, a school shooting followed by unexplained house fires.
First of all I must say that Im quite fed up with following the lives of teenagers. Valente does describe their struggles and feel
Melissa Legleiter
May 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Told in a combination of third person and an amorphous "we" narrator representing 4 high school students, the story is about a school shooting and its aftermath in St. Louis. The story was well-conceived and the teenagers' reactions somewhat believable (especially the mental replaying of what they had experienced and a sort of feeling of inferiority from those who had seen the least). The writing was clunky at best and completely off-putting at some moments. I looked at the back flap at one poin ...more
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had read a short story collection by this author that I loved and was really looking forward to reading this novel...until I found out it was about a school shooting. I had no appetite for that at all and decided not to bother with it until I recently saw a raving review for it on youtube. I thought I would just pick it up and try a few chapters. That was a stroke of luck for me because I thought it was a powerful story and was unlike anything I have read before. It does begin with a school s ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • What Red Was
  • Stranger at Plantation Inn (Classic Gothics Collection, #1)
  • Death Dream
  • My Beautiful Disaster (The Pathway Collection, #2)
  • Red Snow (Tuva Moodyson Mystery, #2)
  • Khatyn
  • Jellyfish
  • Falling for the Fireman (Gordon Falls, #1)
  • The Goodreads Killer
  • The Emotional Edge: Discover Your Inner Age, Ignite Your Hidden Strengths, and Reroute Misdirected Fear to Live Your Fullest
  • Summer Cannibals
  • The Other World, It Whispers
  • Dead Zone: Where the Wild Things Were
  • The Gladstone Bag (Kelling & Bittersohn, #9)
  • Private Love in a Public Place (Private Love, #1)
  • The Cowboy's Bonus Baby (Callahan Cowboys, #2)
  • Little Eve
  • Temperance Creek: A Memoir
See similar books…
Anne Valente's second novel, The Desert Sky Before Us, released in May 2019. She is also the author of the debut novel, Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down (William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2016), the short story collection, By Light We Knew Our Names (Dzanc Books, 2014), and the fiction chapbook, An Elegy for Mathematics, which rereleased from Bull City Press in 2017. Her fiction appears in One Story, The ...more