Burn Baby Burn (Hardcover)
A Kirkus Prize Finalist * A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee * A National Book Award Long List Selection * An American Library Association Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults Selection * A Booklist Editors’ Choice * A Horn Book Fanfare Selection * A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of the Year *A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year * A BookPage Best Children’s Book of the Year
While violence runs rampant throughout New York, a teenage girl faces danger within her own home in Meg Medina's riveting coming-of-age novel.
Nora Lopez is seventeen during the infamous New York summer of 1977, when the city is besieged by arson, a massive blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam who shoots young women on the streets. Nora’s family life isn’t going so well either: her bullying brother, Hector, is growing more threatening by the day, her mother is helpless and falling behind on the rent, and her father calls only on holidays. All Nora wants is to turn eighteen and be on her own. And while there is a cute new guy who started working with her at the deli, is dating even worth the risk when the killer likes picking off couples who stay out too late? Award-winning author Meg Medina transports us to a time when New York seemed balanced on a knife-edge, with tempers and temperatures running high, to share the story of a young woman who discovers that the greatest dangers are often closer than we like to admit — and the hardest to accept.
About the Author
Meg Medina is the author of the Newbery Medal–winning book Merci Suárez Changes Gears, which was also a 2018 Kirkus Prize finalist. Her young adult novels include Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, which won the 2014 Pura Belpré Author Award; Burn Baby Burn, which was long-listed for the National Book Award; and The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind. She is also the author of picture books Mango, Abuela, and Me, illustrated by Angela Dominguez, which was a Pura Belpré Author Award Honor Book, and Tía Isa Wants a Car, illustrated by Claudio Muñoz, which won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award. The daughter of Cuban immigrants, she grew up in Queens, New York, and now lives in Richmond, Virginia.
Meg Medina is the author I studied, and still study, to learn how to write for children. Her ear is impeccable; the way she captures not only dialogue but also communicates adolescent feelings without being condescending nor pitching extra soft softballs. Few people get the balance of writing about and for teens right.
—Elizabeth Acevedo, New York Times bestselling author
Rooted firmly in historical events, Medina's latest offers up a uniquely authentic slice-of-life experience set against a hazy, hot, and dangerous NYC backdrop. Rocky and Donna Summer and the thumping beats of disco, as well as other references from the time, capture the era, while break-ins, fires, shootings, and the infamous blackout bring a harrowing sense of danger and intensity . . . An important story of one of New York City's most dangerous times.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Medina weaves historical context throughout Nora’s first-person narrative, expertly cultivating a rich sense of atmosphere while still keeping her characters sharply in the foreground...Powerfully moving, this stellar piece of historical fiction emphasizes the timeless concerns of family loyalty and personal strength, while highlighting important issues that still resonate today.
—Booklist (starred review)
Medina uses Nora’s story to seamlessly connect readers to an unforgettable period in history, the setting leaving readers thirsting for more information about the summer of 1977. The character development is tight and accurately constructed. Medina holds nothing back, shedding light on the characters’ flaws, which teens today will be able to relate to. Medina is on point with the teen voices, evoking their intense fear, panic, and dreams. A devastatingly intense story, this work is a must-have for all collections, especially where Ruta Sepetys’s books are popular.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
This vividly evoked coming-of-age story is set against actual events in 1977 New York City...Nora is an empathetic character, and Medina depicts her troubled family and their diverse Queens neighborhood with realistic, everyday detail. Numerous references to New York’s budget crisis, arson wave, and “Son of Sam” newspaper stories deliberately ground the story in a real time and place, while an ample sprinkling of seventies disco and funk song references creates a brighter soundtrack for the dreams and romance of teenage girls, hinting at a hopeful future for Nora.
—The Horn Book (starred review)
Nora is strong and believable, a possible romance has heat, and Medina (Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass) gets gritty 1977 New York City right: feminism and disco in the air, Son of Sam, and—come July—the blackout and the ensuing looting and fires...elements in this coming-of-age story are elegantly and eloquently explored.
I don’t know if I’ve ever called a book “masterful” before, but I’m more than a little tempted.
Historical fiction is sometimes a hard sell for contemporary teens; however, Medina’s novel entices readers by developing realistic characters and a strong plot framed by the turbulence of 1977 in NYC. At its heart, this is a novel about growing up. Nora struggles to find her identity outside of her family and make choices that will impact her future. There is a strong theme of feminism and redefining a woman’s role during that time in history. Nora’s outlook on relationships and life in general is frank but refreshingly honest...this novel is a strong choice for its message, characters, and historical perspective.
Medina steeps her narrator in a period world of wearing Sasson jeans, mourning for Freddie Prinze, and screaming at Carrie, but mostly it’s an atmosphere of palpable and excruciating tension for Nora as her family drama mirrors the external threat. Her feelings are believably complicated...While Nora’s milieu may be different, contemporary readers will respond to her doubt about the world’s and her own possibilities, and they’ll be glad to see her bravely moving forward nonetheless.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Meg Medina once again shines in evoking a specific setting peopled with complex, diverse characters.
Medina draws her characters deeply, and makes a struggling New York City their perfect, complicated backdrop.