Fiction Short Take: Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down – Anne Valente

Written in the collective voice of students working on a high school yearbook after a shooting at their school, this novel addresses the trauma of lives lived in the aftermath of such an event. An eerie twist occurs when the homes of the dead students’ start being burned, making us consider these now too-common atrocities with new eyes.

“At Louis and Clark High School outside St. Louis, Mo., in 2003, a junior kills 28 students and seven faculty members in a shooting. Four of the survivors are juniors on the yearbook staff—Matt, Nick, Christina, and Zola—who spend the weeks after the tragedy trying to process the event. But that becomes impossible when, one after another, the houses belonging to the dead students’ families are burned down….he most confounding piece of evidence in every case is that the bodies of the family members appear to have been incinerated out of existence—a scientific impossibility….[Valente] employs short chapters on arson and anatomy, as well as diagrams, newspaper articles, and biographies of the victims on the way to an unforgettable ending, with fire serving as a powerfully fitting metaphor for grief, loss, and our inability to comprehend the nature of fate.”
Publishers Weekly

Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down (9780062429117) by Anne Valente. $25.99 hardcover. 10/4/16 on sale.


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