I was in Chicago this weekend. It was a great trip (lots of running, pizza, beer, gelato). My flight back to Minneapolis was at 5:30am. The only benefit of this (very) early wake up is that I finished Claire Messud's most recent novel, The Burning Girl, on the plane. I read Messud's older books (The Emperor's Children and The Woman Upstairs) in high school / college. I loved both of them, though my taste has likely changed (at least slightly) since those years. I initially picked up Burning Girl for two reasons (1) I remember really liking Messud's stuff, and (2) the book has very mixed reviews on Goodreads (FWIW, Dwight Garner also gave the book a very lukewarm review in the NYT in August 2017).
Claire Messud, who is now a Senior Lecturer in Harvard's English department, has generally focused her writing on relationships between women (most books with female protagonists tend to focus, at least partly, on the woman's relationship with a man). In The Burning Girl, Messud tells the story of an intense friendship (then falling out) between Julia Robinson and Cassie Burnes, both teenagers living in suburban Boston. This is a tough subject to write on in 2018: it's been done (over and over). The topic is tired. That said, there is depth to The Burning Girl: Messud ponders fundamental questions about loyalty, adolescence, and family ties. I just couldn't get past the fact that I've read ten other books with similar plots (best friends-->one girl has a difficult family situation / acts out in school--> no longer best friends --> everyone is sad).
I like Claire Messud. My three star rating here does not change that. I just enjoyed her other books so much more!