Burning by Elana K. Arnold
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
It’s been how long since I last posted? BURNING is different but not quite. But first, to the positive: it had me asking if people still lived still live like that because I confess the idea of gypsy family roaming from place to place was almost unreal to me. The way it’s set up here though makes it almost “possible” to be imagined.
It’s not just an us and them (though there is that). It’s not just girl with a role (though there’s tons of that, too) Here, there’s possibility… both in the guy but more so in the girl. The girl is the focus: that contrast between how she talks and what she’s saying; she wipes away the mysterious but leaves plenty of questions to be asked. So it’s what she says versus how she says it that had me wondering. She’s almost too formal and old fashioned, yet not really. The more time spent with her, the clearer it is that there’s more going on than just “dutiful daughter.”
Or take the guy and his Atlas schtick… something abut his role in this felt not quite real Perhaps there’s a little role reversal for him here. Typical YA set up has the girl pining and loving quick. Typical YA has the girl too perfect, too good, too burdened by one thing or other. Here… all that’s the guy. So do I like this reversal, or am I tired of reading roughly the same thing just slightly different? So what makes this different but not quite? It’s Intense Loves (see the caps?) that come out of nowhere, with one of them a need to be something for the other despite the latter not necessarily seeing things the same way.
The bottom line is one has got to love unexpected endings. It’s the ending that the best thing in all this because take their two separate story lines of guy just about to start living his life yet still held back by so many things AND this girl with her life and her place (that read almost too Cinderella sometimes) and things could have gone Montague-Capulet (as his buddy joked). Yet things didn’t go that way. And I appreciated that. perhaps it’s how she’s matter of fact about who she is and how they do things that takes away the mystery… but it’s also her piecing thing together for herself that has me (him?) asking questions.
It's mainly her who takes the story away from the makings of ROMEO –JULIET toward the real and factual. And I love that. It isn’t about taking up the weight for all else or even being someone for someone else; it’s the both of them finding who they are and doing something about it. The girl just happens to realize this sooner than the guy does. It isn’t about the guy and the girl. It’s about the guy and the girl and WHO they are going to become for themselves AND NOT FOR EACH OTHER. Burning is about both their POSSIBILITIES and their CHOICE…something the guy is slow to realize but does any way.
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