The Burning (Hardcover)

By Laura Bates

Sourcebooks Fire, 9781728206738, 352pp.

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

List Price: 17.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


An Amazon Best Book of the Month
"A smart, explosive examination of gender discrimination and its ramifications."--Publishers Weekly

A rumor is like fire. And a fire that spreads online... is impossible to extinguish.

New school. Check.
New town. Check.
New last name. Check.
Social media profiles? Deleted.

What happens when you can't run or hide from a mistake that goes viral?
Anna and her mother have moved hundreds of miles to put the past behind them. Anna hopes to make a fresh start and escape the harassment she's been subjected to. But then rumors and whispers start, and Anna tries to ignore what is happening by immersing herself in learning about Maggie, a local woman accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century. A woman who was shamed. Silenced. And whose story has unsettling parallels to Anna's own.

From Laura Bates, internationally renowned feminist and founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, comes a realistic fiction story for the #metoo era. It's a powerful call to action, reminding all readers of the implications of sexism and the role we can each play in ending it.

Conversation Starters from

1. Maggie’s story, though four hundred years old, has been handed down for centuries through local accounts and area folklore. Anna’s story is based on the real-life experiences of thousands of teenage girls. What are the main similarities and differences between their stories? Have things changed dramatically for young women in those four hundred years?

2. How do you feel about the conversation between Anna and Emily Winters? How do you think both girls feel afterward?

3. How well do you think Ms. Forsyth and Miss Evans handle the information they learn about Anna online? Is there anything they could have done differently to better support her?

4. When Robin tries to stand up for Anna, he experiences homophobic bullying from some of the other boys. What pressures do the young men in the novel face, from one another and from outside?

5. What do you think Anna’s mother is thinking and feeling when they arrive in St. Monans?

6. How would you describe Anna’s relationship with her mother? Does it change over the course of the novel?

7. Why do you think Headmaster Greaves reacts the way he does to Anna’s situation?

8. How would you describe Alisha’s character? What do you think about the way she defines true love in her conversation with Anna on the pier?

9. Alisha and Cat are very different but are extremely close friends. What do you think makes their relationship so strong?

10. How do you think Anna’s old friends back in Birmingham feel now that she is gone? Do you think the way they feel about Anna will change as they grow older?

11. Both Anna and Cat experience backlash for making decisions about their own bodies. In what ways are girls’ bodies policed in the novel and in real life?