We hope you all enjoyed reading the fourth 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 190 - 259, we learn that Ann and her friends become swept up in the drama and importance of their "affliction," accusing the slave Tittabe and several others in the village of hurting them through witchcraft. Meanwhile in Danvers, in 2012, Colleen's friends discover more and more girls are becoming afflicted with the Mysterious Illness. No one girl has similar symptoms...
Here are some questions where we'd love to hear your thoughts:
1. What did you think of Tittabe's confession upon the stand?
2. Are you, like Colleen, convinced that Emma had something to do with Mr. Mitchell's leaving St. Joan's?
3. What did you think of Anjali's symptoms?
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.