Thursday, 28 July 2011

review: Brooklyn, Burning

by Steve Brezenoff
Carolrhoda Lab, September 2011
young adult contemporary
e-galley received via NetGalley

Kid's been living on the streets ever since the fire, ever since Felix. When Scout shows up armed with a dirty-honey voice, Kid sees the possibility of a band grow and wane as the summer passes. Together the two navigate Brooklyn, separately and together, until the past refuses to be outrun.

The cover:

Beyond the cool title  font, the cover completely baffled me. Okay, there's a fire, but what is that thing that's burning? And the author name is a wee bit too small.

The book:

I actually didn't realize our protag's an LGBTQ character until the (horrifically hurtful) statement from Kid's father. It makes me kind of glad: it proves that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer people are just the same as everyone. It's not always easy to get comfortable with the main character, but as the history comes out, it's impossible not to feel for Kid. All these emotions roiled up -- abandonment, acceptance, aspirations -- make for a close-to-the-heart read.

The depth which Kid feels for everything grounds this book: the relationship with Felix, the way Kid regards Brooklyn, the impact music has... it all rings true, though readers may not have the same problems. Because teenagers are passionate, you know? And Brezenoff captures that in Brooklyn, Burning.

It's good that we're already enthralled by the emotion in this book, because plot takes somewhat of a backseat; it's about a romance, and a healing, and an incident that almost changes Kid's life. I guess you could say it does, to a degree. But while it brings a sense of satisfaction, it's not what we're waiting to see. We're waiting for the blossoming of the relationships, because that's the beauty and the heart of this novel.

Rating: 4.3 out of 5