Cassie and Julia have been best friends since nursery school. Although physically they are very different and their home life is too, they have this strong bond that Julia, the novel’s narrator, feels will never be broken. However, when Cassie’s mother’s boyfriend comes to live with them, Cassie stops telling her best friend everything. And when the girls go into junior high, Cassie starts hanging out with the “fast” crowd. Julia hopes that Cassie will come around and that they can be best friends again.
The Burning Girl is more than just a story about friendship. What Julia learns from her relationship with Cassie is that one can never truly know another person and that is just part of what growing up is about. Messud writes a very good story about adolescent girls, friendships and family.