Book Review: Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down


Book Summary:

The lives of four teenagers are capsized by a shocking school shooting and its aftermath in this powerful debut novel, a coming-of-age story with the haunting power of Station Eleven and the bittersweet poignancy of Everything I Never Told You.

As members of the yearbook committee, Nick, Zola, Matt, and Christina are eager to capture all the memorable moments of their junior year at Lewis and Clark High School—the plays and football games, dances and fund-drives, teachers and classes that are the epicenter of their teenage lives. But how do you document a horrific tragedy—a deadly school shooting by a classmate?

Struggling to comprehend this cataclysmic event—and propelled by a sense of responsibility to the town, their parents, and their school—these four “lucky” survivors vow to honor the memories of those lost, and also, the memories forgotten in the shadow of violence.

But the shooting is only the first inexplicable trauma to rock their small suburban St. Louis town. A series of mysterious house fires have hit the families of the victims one by one, pushing the grieving town to the edge.

My Review:

This is another book about school shootings by students, something that happens far too often. Yet gun laws are not strengthened.


The book was well written and fully captured my full attention. It was a page turner for sure.

I envied the writing style of this author. She has a particularly clever way with words and I’d love to read more by her.

However, the ending of the book fell somewhat short of my expectations. I felt that the suspense built up throughout the book, but then the ending didn’t supply the answers to the questions I had.

About The Author:

Anne Valente

Anne Valente’s debut novel, Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down, released from William Morrow/HarperCollins in 2016 and was selected as a Midwest Connection Pick and an Amazon Best Book of the Month; the paperback releases this December 19. Her second novel, Utah, is forthcoming from William Morrow in 2019.

Her first book and short story collection, By Light We Knew Our Names, won the Dzanc Books Short Story Prize (2014), and she is also the author of the fiction chapbook, An Elegy for Mathematics, which has been re-released by Bull City Press in 2017.  

She holds an MFA in fiction from Bowling Green State University and a PhD in creative writing and literature from the University of Cincinnati. Originally from St. Louis, she currently lives in upstate New York where she teaches creative writing and literature at Hamilton College.