I need it to be known that this is a work of historical fiction. Burn Baby Burn‘s setting is 1977 New York City. Although, the main story is completely fiction. I did not enjoy this book as much as I wanted to. There was something missing from the writing I just couldn’t put my finger on. I think the fact that the full synopsis didn’t even happen till three quarters of the way through the book just slightly bothered me.
Nora Lopez is a latina living in New York City with her Mima and brother. The story revolves around her life spiraling into chaos and lies. Her brother Hector is a threat to society and gets worse every day. This story tries to cover so much that we have everything from sleazy men and disco, to women’s rights and poverty. It felt like this book tried to cover way too many topics throughout the book that it was hard to keep track of.
There was a lot of Spanish terminology that was great representation. I loved the Spanish inclusion but I felt that a lot of translations were left out and I had to go translate for myself to find out what Mima was saying. I just wish it was a little more inclusive since I was usually on the train and lacked service on my phone to keep translating. For me, the words were also placed very randomly in the description. In the dialogue they made sense but other times, the words were just randomly thrown in there.
The book is really slow. The full synopsis of the back doesn’t even happen till halfway through. The killer is called Son of Sam but it took so long to “find” that out. The only reason I kept reading was because I wanted to find out what happens with Hector at the end and to see this historical blackout. And when that finally happens, it only lasts for one chapter. Also, there was a small mistake where Pablo “calls the house in the afternoon” (pg 255). When there is supposed to be no power at all this should not have been able to happen. Just a minor mistake but it really bugged me since I was in climax reading mode.
Hector is such a great character. It shows that these messed up kids have no way to get help, even back in the 80s. And even still now. So many bad things happen today that this book can easily show how the school system fails us.
I loved Kathleen and Nora’s friendship. It was so genuine and there was no unnecessary drama besides them just being friends. Also their irrational fear in the beginning that pretty much intensified their feers to an irrational state throughout the book. Their family dynamics were great and I loved how comfortable Nora is at Kathleen’s house.
The ending to the book is super satisfying. Especially in the end when Nora thinks about things “happening in threes.” I love this way of thinking since I think of good and bad things as happening in total amounts. Like a wave in the water, more bad things may be happening than good but if you look hard enough there is still good. The same goes the opposite way.
I went to a book signing for this and actually snagged my copy of Burn Baby Burn with a messed up cover! The gloss was printed off from the writing and love how unique this is. The author, Meg Medina, was very sweet as well and I got her signature on the main page. I want it to be known that my critque may be on the story but this is only one of her works. Her others have been great so far!
Thank you all for reading and if this historical fiction is right up your alley, then give it a go.
Click the link below to purchase this lovely book in all it’s glory.
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It’s so frustrating when there’s something missing from a book but you can’t quite put your finger on it! Great review.
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