** I received this book as part of a giveaway from a fellow book blogger. I received a free copy of the book for my participation. I was not compensated for this review, nor was any review of the book required for my participation in the giveaway.
Sometimes I read books that can be found in the Young Adult section of the library. I know that a lot of people don't think very highly of Young Adult novels, but I think they're missing out on some great stories and some amazing writing. It's come a long way since I was actually in the intended demographic. That could easily be a post on its own though, so I'll just leave it at that.
As I noted at the beginning of this post, I won a copy of Burning by Elana K. Arnold through a giveaway from another book blogger. It's a story about Ben and Lala, a boy and girl from two very different worlds who happen to meet in the desert outside Burning Man in the series of days that will lead to some big changes for both of them.
Ben's town is shutting down. Not figuratively- the town was built around a mine and with the mine closing everything is shutting down and everyone must move out of their homes. Ben is getting ready to go off to college on a track scholarship and is dealing with the guilt of moving on to a real future when his friends and his family are moving into uncertainty.
Lala is a gypsy. She and her sister are telling fortunes outside of the festival. She's good at it- able to read people and help give them the information they want to hear. The trouble is she's not able to go after what she wants. She's set to be married and will live out the rest of her life within the strict rules set out by her family's culture. Where Ben seems to fear and pity uncertainty, she sees it more as adventure and possibility.
Some of the story is predictable in so much as there will be an attraction between the two and they'll hit obstacles as they try to find a way to be together. What I didn't expect was the ending.
There's a bit of a twist to the way the relationship goes. Instead of ending with the couple deciding to stay together and make it work, which is what Ben wants, Lala sets off on her own to find her own way in the world.
Part of me found that terrifying- a 17 year old girl with no family out on her own? There are too many horrible things that could happen. Another part of me, though, was impressed with her courage. I'm sure at one point or another we've all wanted to start fresh and go somewhere new to be someone new, and here's a character that has that chance and isn't afraid to take it.