Elana K. Arnold
Released: June 11, 2013
You can read the Goodreads summary here.
Ben's hometown of Gypsum, NV is essentially shutting down since the mines have closed. Everyone is moving and Ben's friends and family are leaving within the week, except that Ben's won a scholarship to a California school so he's headed out that way. Meanwhile, Lala and her family are traveling gypsies who are in town for a festival. When Ben and Lala meet, there's instant attraction and their lives are about to change.
If you could only pick one theme from Burning, it would definitely be change. Everyone in the novel is either experiencing change or yearning for it. Ben's whole town is about to be abandoned since the gypsum market crashed and the town's mine - and livelihood - shut down for good. But even if the town was staying, Ben's life would be changing since he won a full scholarship to a California university and is about to head further west for higher education while his friends stay behind. That's something that Ben really struggles with in the novel and it was refreshing to see that even after he falls for Lala it still weighs heavily on his mind.
Lala, on the other hand, is yearning for change. She's been traveling with her fellow gypsies from place to place telling uncanny fortunes and earning good money for it. But she's been betrothed to another gypsy and she's not sure she wants to get married. I don't know much about gypsies in real life, I'm sure the ones we see on reality television aren't exactly accurate portrayals, but I can't imagine being trapped in a life with such strict gender roles and having no choice in your marriage. It's no wonder Lala is yearning for change and that she sees that opportunity in Ben, whom she meets when his friends bring him for a tarot card reading.
There's a definite chemistry between Ben and Lala from the get-go. I think what I loved most about Ben and Lala's relationship though was that even though they were attracted to each other and experienced that YA version of insta-love, it wasn't an all-encompasing love. Ben still pined for the friends he was about to lose and Lana still had a love for her family, despite her frustrations with them. I loved the way Ben and Lala handled their time together while still balancing their real lives. It made their story that much more believable and realistic. I don't want to give away the ending, but I thought it suited both of them well and was the perfect ending to Burning.
Four stars! I really, really enjoyed this quick read. I don't think I've read a contemporary novel about gypsies before, but it was definitely interesting and had me turning the pages. Contemporary fans will love this one and it's perfect for those shortening summer days we have left. Pick up a copy today!