Set against the backdrop of New York City in 1977, Burn Baby Burn takes place when things were changing for women, a serial killer was on the loose, a city was failing, it was the hottest summer on record, and disco was queen.
Nora López can’t wait to turn 18. Mima doesn’t know it yet, but as soon as she’s an adult, she is moving out to make it on her own. There’s too much pressure at home where Mima’s dwindling hours at work make her afraid that they can’t pay the rent and her brother, Hector, is ratcheting up the kind of trouble he is getting up to. At school is a different kind of pressure: her counselor and shop teacher want her to “do something with her life” and go to a local technical college. What’s the point?
The only stable things in Nora’s life are her friendship with her best friend, Kathleen, and Kathleen’s loving parents, and her job at Sal’s. And when Pablo starts working at Sal’s, Nora beings to believe that maybe she can have more than she thinks. But hanging over everyone’s heads is the killer who is shooting young couples on dates and the oppressive heat. It’s a powder keg getting ready to blow.
Having previously read Ms. Medina’s Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, I knew what great storytelling I was in for. The books do have similarities – there’s a Latina heroine in bleak-ish straits, and both stories also include a NYC setting, school and an absent father. Nora is desperate to separate from her Mima-imposed responsibilities and for her parents to be the parents for once. It’s a girl on the cusp of womanhood, wanting to shed her old life and make something of herself.
Burn Baby Burn also has the spark of the historical by being set during a time that marked huge changes in women’s rights, city management, law enforcement and firefighting. Disco Inferno, indeed.
(LOVE the cover, too.)
Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina was published March 8, 2016 by Candlewick Press. Ink and Page picked this book up from the library for review.
Genre: Young Adult New Adult Realistic Historical Fiction Romance