Friday, November 20, 2015

Online Book Club - Conversion - Week One Discussion!

Good Morning!

We hope you all enjoyed reading the first 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 XI - 61, we jump between two different time periods, the seventeen hundreds and 2012. In Salem, a young woman named Ann wants to confess her sins and in Danvers, a high school senior named Colleen finds herself in a school plagued by something strange that is making her classmates sick.  

Here are some questions where we'd love to hear your thoughts:
1. This book has a connection to the Salem Witch Trials - what do you already know about that time?
2. What do you think about the type of school that Colleen and her friends attend? Would you like to go to that type of high school?
3. How do you think that Ann and Colleen might be connected?

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. 


  1. Comments from the West Side’s Lunch Bunch Book Club Blog:
    Having already watched the Crucible and then discussing the movie, our knowledge of the Salem Witch Trials was based upon that.
    We prefer the idea of having a very diverse high school experience and think the type of private school that Colleen attends would be limiting to one social group.
    We've thought of many potential ways that Ann and Colleen could be connected:
    perhaps related?
    having a “mirror” type experience, so far they were both watching events unfold around them
    girls have like having a feeling of power
    countless pressures to be successful,
    they are friends with the other girls but will do what they need to succeed

  2. More comments added by West Side's Lunch Bunch Book Club:
    Comments :
    Many innocent women and men were affected negatively by it. Women were burned at the stake for witchcraft.

    I think the school is a private school in which only the best is expected from the students. I wouldn’t like to attend the school because there is an aura of competitiveness coming from the girls towards each other.

    I think that Ann and Colleen might be relatives.

    Many people were accused of witchcraft, even though most were innocent. Took place in the 1700s.

    Colleen attends a Catholic Private school. I wouldn’t really mind attending this school but I would rather go to a more diverse school like the one we go to now. You can have access to different views and perspectives that other people have. It’s not as boring.

    They play the same role in society relating to the salem witch trials and the mysterious illness.