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Brooklyn, Burning

by Brezenoff, Steve

School Library Journal Gr 10 Up-It's a summer of love for Kid and Scout, two runaway teenagers living in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. Complicating their romance, Kid is wanted for questioning about a tragic warehouse fire that happened just before the summer began. As the season draws to a close and Kid finally decides to work toward proving his/her innocence, he/she worries about losing Scout before leaving Brooklyn forever. The story is presented in nonlinear format, often flashing back to Kid's previous relationship with an older street junkie named Felix. It is implied that this relationship ended tragically and explains why Kid is depressed when the story begins. Told from Kid's perspective, the title avoids assigning gender pronouns to the protagonist, allowing readers to make their own decisions about the character's gender and sexual identity. It's also assumed that Kid has not yet made these particular decisions either. While this is a somewhat clever idea, it also proves to be confusing at times and may ultimately prevent readers' from identifying with the character. This, combined with a menagerie of forgettable and unrealistic supporting characters, will limit the book's appeal.-Ryan Donovan, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 10 Up-It's a summer of love for Kid and Scout, two runaway teenagers living in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. Complicating their romance, Kid is wanted for questioning about a tragic warehouse fire that happened just before the summer began. As the season draws to a close and Kid finally decides to work toward proving his/her innocence, he/she worries about losing Scout before leaving Brooklyn forever. The story is presented in nonlinear format, often flashing back to Kid's previous relationship with an older street junkie named Felix. It is implied that this relationship ended tragically and explains why Kid is depressed when the story begins. Told from Kid's perspective, the title avoids assigning gender pronouns to the protagonist, allowing readers to make their own decisions about the character's gender and sexual identity. It's also assumed that Kid has not yet made these particular decisions either. While this is a somewhat clever idea, it also proves to be confusing at times and may ultimately prevent readers' from identifying with the character. This, combined with a menagerie of forgettable and unrealistic supporting characters, will limit the book's appeal.-Ryan Donovan, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list At one point in Brezenoff's ambitious new novel, protagonist Kid's father snarls, I've got the only kid who doesn't know whether to be straight or gay or a girl or a boy or what. Well, not the only kid. Kid's new love interest, Scout, is also sexually ambiguous and, like Kid, non-gender-specific. In fact, the author never does tell the reader the sexual identity of either of the two teens. This makes for a certain amount of confusion, as does the author's narrative strategy of moving backward and forward in time. But this strategy does add tension to a second mystery: who set the fire that destroyed a historic (but deserted) warehouse? The police think it was Kid, but was it? Meanwhile, Kid and Scout are discovering their tender feelings for each other and making music: Kid's a drummer, and Scout's a singer (and guitar player, of course). The question raised by all this is not whether their love will last but, rather, do their genders and sexual identities matter. Heated discussions are sure to follow.--Cart, Michae. Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Sixteen-year-old Kid, a passionate drummer and painter, spends summers on the streets of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, taking refuge in Fish's bar, practicing drumming in the bar's cellar, and hanging out with friends. It's at Fish's that Kid meets Scout, a magnetic musician that Kid is drawn to but reluctant to get close to, still heartbroken after falling in love with-and losing-Felix, a musician and junkie, the previous summer. Brezenoff (The Absolute Value of -1) alternates between the events of each summer, but it's another authorial decision-to never make clear Kid or Scout's gender-that gives the story, and their relationship, their power (Kid's narration directly addresses Scout as "you"). The author throws out occasional references to Scout's "dirty-honey" singing voice and pixyish looks, and at one point Kid's father rages, "I've got the only kid I know who doesn't know whether to be straight or gay or a girl or a boy or what." But Brezenoff lets readers take the reins, recasting and reimagining the lead roles as often as they like. For readers with little use for labels, it's an intimate yet wonderfully open rock 'n' roll love story. Ages 12-18. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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