We hope you all enjoyed reading the second section of Conversion by Katherine Howe.
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 they can’t.
First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.
Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago...
In pages 63 - 124, we learn that more girls in Colleen's school have fallen mysteriously ill and that the school seems to be keeping secrets about whether or not they truly understand what is going on. Colleen has also begun receiving strange text messages from someone who will not reveal themselves. In the seventeen hundreds, Ann has begun telling her story to the Reverend, revealing that Betty and Abby were faking their illness...
Here are some questions where we'd love to hear your thoughts:
1. What type of illness do you think the girls have in Colleen's school?
2. Who do you think is the person secretly messaging Colleen? What is the connection to The Crucible?
3. What do you think has caused Ann to suddenly start confessing to the Reverend?
Please, give us any thoughts that you have about the pages we've read so far, BUT...NO SPOILERS please!! If you read ahead, make sure not to give away any clues to things that may come ahead.