Thursday, June 9, 2016

Book Review: Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina

Dear Alison,

Last night, I stayed up late. I was three quarters of the way through Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina, and I wasn’t about to put it down. Sleep could wait. Sleep was for the weak. Nora wasn’t weak. Nora wouldn’t sleep. She would push through blurry eyed and gritted teeth until the end.

Around 2 am, I set Burn Baby Burn on the nightstand and turned off the light with full intentions of waiting until the morning to write my review, but Nora kept me awake. She refused to let me sleep until I poured my emotions onto the page (Or dictated into my phone.)

Image result for person waking person

Imagine Burn Baby Burn on nightstand in the pitch dark. 

Nora's strength blew me away. I’ve always thought strong female protagonists are females who fight, who voice their opinions loudly, who don’t take one iota of crap from anyone. Women like Stiller, Nora’s protest loving neighbor. But Nora’s different. She doesn't fight. She doesn't confront. She possesses a quiet strength that helps her survive a negligent Papi, a traditional Mima, a violent brother who verbally and physically abuses the women of the household (Nora included), and a city lit by fire and gripped with fear over the Son of Sam serial killer.

Nora’s strength grows with each violent act she witnesses. In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger,” or if for the less philosophical and more music oriented, Kelly Clarkson’s What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us Stronger… 


Nora stops asking her disinterested father for help. She tells him he’s helping. She stops allowing her mom to guilt her into condoning her brother’s violent ways. Nora was strong for her family throughout the novel. By the end, she realizes she needs to be strong for herself.

Alison, as you know, I’m not one for boxes. See I AM AN OCTOPUS POST. In the strictest interpretations Burn Baby Burn is considered Young Adult Historical Fiction, but really it’s timeless. The issues Nora faces happen today. They will happen tomorrow. They will happen forever. Burn Baby Burn is a coming of age for every generation.

I fell in love with Meg Medina at the Pocono Retreat. 

Meg giving her final goodbyes before she dashed off to catch a plane.

Your Highlights post about Meg did a superb job inviting her into our hearts without us even realizing it was Meg we where missing. You and I will be at the Highlights Foundation this September with Meg during her Artist-in-Residency fangirling, I mean, seriously working on our current WIP. Y'all should check it out and join us! 

Psst, Jerry and Eileen Spinelli are coming in September too. The information for their Artist-in-Residency is here.  And lo and behold, while I was prepping this post, I also got this email in my inbox. Destiny? I think so. See you there! 

And make sure you read Burn Baby Burn, then hop on over to write a review. You gotta share the writer love! That's where I'm headed after this! 
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Candlewick Press, March 2016
ISBN 978-0-7637-7467-0
Young Adult, 320 pages



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