Title: Burn Baby Burn
Author: Meg Medina
Pub: March 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction
The first Meg Medina book I read was Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass and I was immediately moved, impressed, and left knowing I would want to read anything else Medina shares with the world.
Medina writes in such a way that pulls the reader in, even when the reader may not have any interest in the genre. As I was with Yaqui, but I had to read it anyway.
Similarly, Burn Baby Burn, pulls you in. This time, with a fiery and destructive nature that was New York City in the late 1970s. Burn Baby Burn is very much the setting of a city’s evolution as it is Nora Lopez’s own journey of discovery.
Nora is a senior and can’t wait to get out of her house and strike out on her own, away from her pushover mother and abusive younger brother. But, the super is hounding them for rent, Nora’s scrambling for more hours at the deli, and now there’s a killer on the loose taking down couples out late at night.
This is a coming of age story. Nora must come into her own person and decide if she’s going to let her brother and mother continue ruining her life, run away, or do something about it.
The narrative follows Nora, her neighborhood (including the people and setting), and the events that transpired the year of 1977. They are compelling pieces in the story of NYC’s hottest and deadliest summers.
Nora’s own growth is influenced by the world crashing and burning around her. The intersectionality of feminism, Disco, being Latina in America, amongst other things.
Medina took a stance and decided to emphasize juvenile abuse in this novel. In this case, it’s Nora’s younger brother, Hector, who is abusive and violent toward his parents and older sister. It’s another facet of family life we don’t get to see that often as readers, but is still all too important to see represented.
Similar to Yaqui, Burn Baby Burn surprised me by how much I enjoyed it. Although, I think there could have been a little more emphasis on the tension surrounding the killer and issues about post-high school, this story is very much Nora’s and her growth.