Crossover and Bridge: Conversion

I picked up Katherine Howe’s novel Conversion on something of a whim, mostly because whatever I had read about described its link to the Salem Witch Trials and Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible. Both are topics/texts that are frequently studied in high schools, so I figured this book might provide some nice connections in the context of young adult readers. I was surprised at how engaged I became in the story and the characters.
Conversion is really two stories in one: The main story is told through Colleen Rowley’s eyes while a secondary story reveals the truth behind the witch scare in Salem, Massachusetts in in 1600’s. Colleen lives in Danvers, MA (the town formerly known as Salem Village–renamed for obvious reasons, I guess) where she attends an elite private all-girls school; the focus of the story is on an unidentified “illness” that strikes the school, beginning with a few girls and slowly infecting more and more of the school’s population. Interspersed with chapters about the mysterious illness are chapters that take place in Salem Village, told from the perspective of Ann Putnam, where she confesses the true events and motives at work in the girls who were the center of the original Salem witch scare.

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