Claire Messud has given us a beautifully drawn coming-of-age story in her new novel, The Burning Girl. Julia (Juju) and Cassie met in nursery school, instantly becoming best friends. They had great adventures together, even finding an abandoned asylum in the woods in which they acted out stories in the ruins. Cassie's mother had claimed she was a young widow but Cassie often fantasized her father was still alive and missing her. As often happens, the two grew apart in their teens but there remained a bond that tethered them. When Cassie’s mother became involved with a doctor, a member of their church, the couple’s religious zeal and restrictions proved too much for the fragile girl and she ran away to find her father. Julia is then drawn back into Cassie’s world to help find her former best friend.