Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
What It’s About:
Nora Lopez can’t wait for her 18th birthday. It’s the summer of 1977, and New York is going through record heat temperatures. Crime has hit an all time high, with arson all over the city and a serial killer on the loose. Even Nora’s family seems to be consumed by chaos. Nora and her mother struggle to make ends meet and keep a roof over their heads. They must also walk on eggshells around Hector, Nora’s little brother, who’s behavior grows more volatile each day. Nora must figure out how to keep her life from falling apart while planning for her for future.
What I liked:
I really enjoyed the 70’s vibes that were carried through the whole story. The author created a feel of New York City in the time period while keeping the story character driven. Meg Medina used her experiences growing up in 1970’s New York and also credits her sources that helped her recreate the setting in the authors notes and credits. I like YA historical fiction in that the stories take you to another time but aren’t so heavily bogged down with the historical details.
The family dynamics in this book was what made me give this book 4 stars. The overall storyline was fairly ordinary. It has the common theme of a teenager coming of age and finding their independence. But what made this story unique to me was Nora’s family. I was fascinated by the interactions and complex relationships between Nora, her mother, and brother. Some parts made me incredibly sad that Nora had to bear so much weight and responsibility on keeping her family together during a time in her life where she should be enjoying her youth. The uncertainty, fear, and pain that Nora went through was palpable.
What I didn’t like:
There was very little for me to dislike about this book. The one minor thing that bothered me was that the blurb for this book talks about a serial killer, Son of Sam, that prowls the city and it seemed like it would be a big part of the story. This was not the case (which is why it’s not in my synopsis). The killer is such a small part of the story and it kind of felt like it was added for the thrill factor. Even thought this serial killer did exist in real history during this time, it didn’t add much to the plot of this book. I just skimmed over the short parts that it came up.
The best part of this story was the characters. I actually liked almost every character in this story (even the minor ones). I enjoyed the setting and recreation of a New York neighborhood in the 1970’s. It actually reminded me alot of the TV series called, The Get Down, on Netflix. It takes place in the same time period with teenage main characters. You can see the trailer here.
You might like Burn Baby Burn if you are interested in:
- Latinx characters
- Stories focusing on family relationships
- the 1970’s era
- Families with single and/or immigrant parents, divorce, low income, domestic abuse, juvenile delinquency