Ben Stanley has lived in Gypsum, Nevada for all his life. It’s one of those towns where everybody knows each other’s business and secrets. That used to bother Ben. But now that gypsum mines are closing, no one is staying in Gypsum. Almost everybody has somewhere else to go. For Ben, his new home will be in San Diego, where he has a college track scholarship. But some of Ben’s friends aren’t as lucky. Ridden with guilt over leaving his friends to start a new life, Ben will agree to just about anything they ask. So when Hog Boy wants him to come see the gypsy caravan on Highway 447, Ben thinks, "Why not?"
"The characters struggle with their choices in BURNING and other people’s as well. No matter whose choice it is, however, all the characters become transformed by the decisions made in this book."
What starts out as a simple quest to get their fortune told by a hot gypsy girl spirals quickly out of control as Ben begins to feel as if he and the gypsy, Lala White, are connected somehow. There’s just one problem: Lala is engaged to a man her parents picked out for her, and there is no way to escape the arranged marriage without bringing great shame to both her family and herself. But Lala has always yearned for her freedom, and this might be her only chance.
BURNING by Elana K. Arnold is told from two alternating perspectives: Ben’s and Lala’s. This really helped with the flow of the story and gave an inside peek into both characters' lives and struggles. What really stood out in this book are the characters. Sometimes, when authors alternate perspectives, it can be easy to forget whose point of view we are reading. But in BURNING the contrast between the characters was so distinct. Ben’s voice was that of a caring, worried teenage boy, and Lala’s was that of an honest, formal girl. You could clearly tell who was speaking throughout the entire book.
BURNING talked a lot about the choices a person has to make, whether they are the choices someone makes for you or your own decisions. The characters struggle with their choices in BURNING and other people’s as well. No matter whose choice it is, however, all the characters become transformed by the decisions made in this book. Long after the final page, the reader will think back on the decisions made in this book and be able to connect those decisions to their own life.
Reviewed by Kate F. on June 26, 2013
- Publication Date: June 11, 2013
- Genres: Young Adult 14+
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Delacorte Press
- ISBN-10: 0385743343
- ISBN-13: 9780385743341