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Brooklyn, Burning

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  744 Ratings  ·  182 Reviews
Steve Brezenoff's gorgeous, sad, and hopeful Brooklyn, Burning is a love letter to Brooklyn, a love letter to music booming from the basement, and most of all, a love letter to every kind of love (but especially the punk rock kind).
Hardcover, 202 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Carolrhoda Books
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Wendy Darling
There is a certain rough beauty which can be found in urban environments. Anyone who has stood on a rooftop at sundown or noticed a patch of wildflowers poking out of a concrete sidewalk will appreciate the strange duality of natural and manmade aesthetics, as well as the occasional difficulty of finding security and happiness in such surroundings.

For Kid, who has been living on the streets for over a year, the city of Brooklyn offers both strength and sadness and love and loss. Kid's parents ca
Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
4.5 stars
**Minor spoilers ahead.**

If we only look at the surface, it’s pretty clear that Brooklyn, Burning is about gender identity and sexual orientation issues. But looking at the surface is not nearly enough. By concentrating too much on things like gender identity, we fail to see what’s underneath, and we miss everything that’s beautiful. Now, I know that sounds like a terrible cliché, but it’s a lesson that can’t be repeated enough.

This book, much like its main character, refuses to be cat
Aug 10, 2011 Tatiana rated it it was ok
Recommended to Tatiana by: Catie
Shelves: ya, 2011
Good writing and a story that didn't really affect me.

A homeless teen narrator whose gender and sexuality are never defined, kicked out of home for being "undecided" - certainly a very interesting perspective from which to write a teen novel. The message is clear - labels mean nothing, only love matters.

I wanted to like Brooklyn, Burning more. But it is hard to like a book which has romance at its core but whose characters you have no connection with. Kid and Scout never came alive for me, they
Jun 20, 2011 Catie rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Catie by: Wendy+ Maja = MaWen, the netgalley previewing team
This book came as quite a little surprise. I recently finished The Absolute Value of -1, which was gorgeous but also full of difficult characters and had a heartbreaking ending. So, I really did not expect this book to have:

a) a sweet love story


b) a joyously happy ending.

Let’s review what I thought this book was about: homeless teenage runaways, intolerant parents, and gender identity. You can see why I did not think this book was going to be a happy one. But guess what? This is a lovely, hap
“I squeezed your hand and looked at your face. It was lit up, not from the rising sun, but from within, and I knew mine must have been too.”

High points.
Questions the restrictions and preconceptions of gender. Brooklyn. Music. Love with no limits. Sunsets. No inhibitions. The dark side of growing up. The complex relationship between kids and parents who could never/refuse to understand. Summer. Basements. Sex. Dealing with loss. Looking to the future. Happy ending…thank god.

Low Points.
When I love
Jun 19, 2011 tonya. rated it really liked it
Brooklyn, Burning was quite a surprise for me. I think I expected something hard-edged and bitter, the way I imagine the streets of Brooklyn might be. What I got was something altogether different.

Brooklyn, Burning is the story of Kid (as in Billy, the), a teenager living on the streets of Brooklyn. Kid is an unlabeled entity; we're never gives any indication of either Kid's gender or sexual orientation, simply because Kid doesn't know the answer to either question. I found myself trying to read
Jun 28, 2011 Isamlq rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-galley

Surface: it's about kids who are unsatisfied and (feel) unaccepted; they're lost and maybe confused about who they are and what they want.

Closer: (and you don't really have to look that close with Kid telling the story,) you get one that's just of People; of being found, then lost, then found again.

There's plenty appealing in this:

It's real. With a narrator like Kid, I could feel his anger, sadness... I could feel as he did. He doesn't sugar coat. What he did, where he lived and those he kn
May 06, 2011 Tara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mythang
I've been thinking about this for awhile. What can I say that will do this book justice and won't sound like a bunch of gushing? Truth? All I can do is rave about it.

This isn't a boy meets girl story. Or a boy meets boy. Or a girl meets girl. Or maybe it is... That's the beauty of it. This story is about two teenagers in a bad situation who fall in love. It's about two human beings connecting through music and shared experiences. And it's done beautifully. All of the characters are REAL and nua
Apr 22, 2011 Annika rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley, lgbtq
When I started reading Brooklyn, Burning I was really excited for it, because of the wonderful reviews it has received but at the same time I tried to keep my expectations low. With hype you always have to expect something not to live up to it.

Brooklyn, Burning didn't live up to my expectations. It is not a bad book. The writing is alright and I can appreciate how the Brezenoff never slipped in not revealing the gender of the main character. At the same time I found not knowing very frustrating
Heidi (Yup. Still here.)
3.5 stars. I am really stuck between 3 and 4 stars on this one. Overall I really enjoyed it and think it is most definitely worth the read. My only hesitancy/issue is with the overall character development. I feel like I merely got a glimpse of Kid's world when I wanted an entire view. In defense of the author this is most likely a defect on my part as I am not usually one of those readers who can be thrown into a time and place and just go with it. A lot of other readers are good with this type ...more
Jun 17, 2011 Nalnac rated it it was amazing



review will follow shortly
Also found here:

It's summer again, which means a lot of things for Kid. In the last year he was kicked out of home, lost a loved one and had his roof burn down (both literally and figuratively). He's hounded by the police, and isn't too thrilled when he discovers he's falling in love again, with a guitarist who answers a long-forgotten add.

That's not really what this book is about, though. It's just what I could sum up in two sentences.

Much like its narr
Jun 21, 2011 Naitasia rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, arcs-and-galleys
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 30, 2011 Gilbert&Gomez rated it it was ok
I feel so ashamed. When I got this book I was like, "Wow, this guy is a genius. The whole idea of not knowing the gender of the main characters will be sooo cool." But, then I started reading it and realized that I was so upset. I couldn't get into the book because I DIDN'T KNOW THE GENDER! So upsetting to find that out about myself. But, on the bright side, I did read enough that I can tell you that the writing is phenomenal!

Steve Brezenoff's writing is so detailed, especially for a book where
Harry Brake
Jun 05, 2013 Harry Brake rated it liked it
Catcher in the Rye packed, I felt so many times as if I was going to lose my very apartment as I felt I was inside the body of Kid as he wondered from place to place trying to find a place to sleep each night. Steve Brezenoff is able to bring the wandering and restlessness of Kid outside of each page into the inner core of your very being if you let it. Was it ironic that Alicia Keys' "New York" ( came on the radio a few minutes after I finished? The memo ...more
Mar 02, 2011 Jodi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011-read
I cried when I finished reading Brooklyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff. While I’m generally a crybaby, I wouldn’t need to use my toes to count how many times a novel has made me cry.

But there I was, snuggled into bed turning the last page of this brilliant, profound young adult novel my face wet. They weren’t tears of sadness or regret, it was joy and happiness.

My joy, at first, was for the tender love story between Kid and Scout, two sixteen-year-old runaways who spend the summer in Greenpoint, B
You would think that this book wouldn't work for me. It's a love story, but it's told in 2nd person POV and you never know the gender of either the protagonist or the love interest. And yet... it was really beautiful.

I think the issue of Kid's homelessness was glossed over a bit in terms of how difficult that reality would be, but I still appreciated that the author was trying to bring attention to the disproportionate amount of LGBTQ homeless youth out there. It's said by Kid's father that Kid
Mar 22, 2012 Chris rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, not-graphic, life
I have it on good authority that this is an excellent book. Friends, authors, reviewers that I trust and more often than not agree with have all said so. And I know I wasn't in the best mental space as I read this one. So if I was less than impressed, I tend to believe the fault lies in me as a reader and not the book; I don't trust my own opinion on this one. I could see it was a good book, after all, I just never felt emotionally engaged by it, didn't empathize with the characters or feel what ...more
Joelle Anthony
Sep 08, 2012 Joelle Anthony rated it it was amazing
This is really good...tight plot, interesting weaving of the present and the past, and very strong writing. The reality of these kids' situation is never sugar coated, but it's a good read for someone kind of wimpy and squeamish like me. It is gritty in its subject matter, but lyrical in the writing, so quite beautiful. Highly recommended.
Blue Ayli
Oct 08, 2016 Blue Ayli rated it really liked it
I would actually give it a 4.5 but that might be because I'm too emotional about all this ya love stuff right now.
I also loved the fact that 99% of the characters seemed bi to me.
Sep 04, 2011 Hannah rated it it was amazing
So, so beautiful. I'm in love with the world.
Trish Doller
Apr 06, 2011 Trish Doller rated it it was amazing
I hate Steve Brezenoff in the best possible way.
Petty Lisbon
Dec 21, 2016 Petty Lisbon rated it did not like it
It's closer to a 1.5.
I'll get this out of the way first. I think it's lazy, and dare I say gimmicky, to use the genderless card without developing any of the struggles. It just feels like you want a "hey, look at me!" card but outside of one line by Kid's dad, that's just kind of glossed over. I know straight love stories get treated normally, so LGBT love stories should be treated the same, but if you're writing about LGBT homeless youth, then that doesn't really sit well with me.
I didn't lik

I really enjoyed this book and how it approached gender identity, sexuality, coming-of-age, mental health, etc. While the writing was really hard to get into in the first few chapters, the story eventually found a groove that worked. Brooklyn, Burning does a great job of building the environment for the characters. It feels like I've been set back in Brooklyn. The characters were fleshed out pretty well, and while the book dates itself in the early/mid-2000's at some moments, it seems to tr
Jul 09, 2011 KP rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For me, there are some books that transcend the expected and change you to some degree. Steve Brezenoff’s Brooklyn, Burning is one of those books. Once I was finished, I had to sit and marinate in all that I had read, all that I had acquired while reading, and needed to think about. And, there was a lot I needed to think about.

The main character, Kid, has had a rough two summers. What we know about Kid is there was love, there was loss, there was fire, and there was love. What we don’t know abou
Mar 10, 2017 Kristy rated it liked it
Overall, this is a beautifully written book. I feel like there were a few things missing, but the characters were pretty well developed and the writing was just gorgeous.
It seems I only read books these days when I should be sleeping instead. As such, at 1:45 in the morning, five hours before work, I finished rereading Brooklyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff. I have only read this book once before, bordering on three years ago, but it has stuck with me in a very significant way. This will likely be more of a personal reflection than a review.

I first came across this book in 2012, in a thrift shop I'd never heard of in a part of Milwaukee I'd never been to. I found
Jan 20, 2017 ankita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-lit, fiction, lgbtq
4.5 stars

Very engaging and poignant. I loved reading this a lot.
Nov 28, 2011 Alexei rated it really liked it
Shelves: ophelia-s-place
{Sited from my website TeenageBookaholic }

When you're a 16 year old who's not understood and in love, what do you do? That's Kid's situation. Kid's has been kicked out of his house by his father, who expects the perfect child, and has fallen in love with Felix, a homeless, heroin addict with a voice like no other. Kid loves to lose himself in Felix's voice and music, but when Felix dies, Kid vows to never love again. However, when the next summer comes around, Scout drops into his life with the
Mar 02, 2016 Laura rated it really liked it
Author Brezenoff has written a book whose main character is never identified as a specific gender or sex. If you don't enjoy reading books with that level of ambiguity (such as David Levithan's 'EveryDay'), then this might not be a good choice for you.

If you can get past it, though, you can expect a beautifully written book on teen homelessness, music, love, grief, loss, and finding your place in the world. Actually, the absence of sexual identity becomes part of the power of the story by offer
Camille Mendoza
May 20, 2014 Camille Mendoza rated it really liked it
"Brooklyn Burning" by Steve Brezenoff did not fail to have an impact on me. The whole book isn't like others, and that's what makes the book special. From the characters, to the way it's read, to the description, and even the heart felt connection between Scout and Kid. This book burned my heart like the way the warehouse was burning. A good book, has this burning desire that takes over your heart, Brooklyn Burning had that.

Brezenoff did impress me by his characters. You start of with Kid as the
Feb 21, 2016 soph added it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 14, 2015 Bayyinah rated it it was ok
well the main characters romance was cute. i didnt understand how kid fell in love with scout. kid just seemed like the type of person to fall hard for people very quickly and scout was a new person could fall in love with. i didnt get it. but it was cute. we barely knew anything about scout. when scout talked there were just lines describing how scout would talk abd how kid qas enamored. but there could have been quotes of scout actually talking. all i know is that scout sings and not where sco ...more
Jan 21, 2016 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Among the many, many Young Adult novels that I’ve read, *Brooklyn, Burning* is unique in two distinct ways. First—and most obviously—it refuses to gender its protagonist, Kid, or the object of Kid’s affection, Scout. Initially, this (intentional) failure to identify the gender of the two characters at the center of the novel evoked anxiety and discomfort in me—how could I imagine these characters, I thought, if I don’t know their respective genders? As I became more acquainted with Kid and Scout ...more
Jun 04, 2016 Joan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: writer librarian, sarah madison, tina
Recommended to Joan by: Book Riot
I don't read a lot of YA fiction, but after seeing a list of "don't miss" LGBTQ books, I was intrigued by the story and the characters whose sexual orientation is never revealed. The relationships could be m/f, m/m, f/f, gender fluid ... you just don't know. The plot, and title, are taken from a true arson investigation in Brooklyn in the '80s, though the setting is contemporary. The characters range from the temporarily displaced narrator "Kid", whose father has thrown them out of the house, bu ...more
Alec Roland
Jan 12, 2016 Alec Roland rated it liked it
This novel is about a troubled sixteen-year-old boy who goes by the name "Kid". He does not know his sexuality and that is part of the reason why he is kicked out of his house and left on the streets. Kid is very passionate about music and ends up meeting a guy named Felix, who lives in two places: the cellar at Fish's Bar or a local warehouse. Kid develops a love for Felix, because he sees that they both have a lot in common. Both characters are highly interested in music. However, Fish will no ...more
Laura (booksnob)
Jun 01, 2014 Laura (booksnob) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult, 2014
Brooklyn, Burning is the type of book that only comes along once in awhile and burns its beautiful story into your heart.

Kid is a teen runaway and so is Scout. They meet outside of Fish's bar in Brooklyn and develop a relationship while they try and survive on the streets. Both play instruments and make beautiful music together that is raw and creative.

Kid used to sleep in the old warehouse down by the river but it burned. The authorities suspect arson and Kid is their prime suspect. Kid is ree
Danni Green
Apr 14, 2015 Danni Green rated it it was amazing
Shelves: genderawesome
As a nonbinary-gendered person, I often despair of ever finding people like me represented in literature. This book does it, and does it extremely well. This is an exquisitely crafted work of art, portraying love and loss and community and grief and passion through the eyes of a teenager whose family situation is all too real for many of us who have come out as transgender, genderqueer, or otherwise nonbinary-gendered. Some parts definitely were a little "too real" for me, so it was a deeply emo ...more
Jan 12, 2014 Rob rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbq, trans
*sputters and jumps to life*

I guess it’s interesting that a book about a kid who doesn’t have a home made me feel so at home. This was a great book to read and a hard one to finish, because I feel like I’ll never read anything like it ever again. It's probably a 4.5 although giving ratings becomes impossible with books like these.

This is a book about a homeless kid, whose name also happens to be Kid. Kid's gender is never stated. Scout's gender is never stated either, and Scout is very important
Kalleigh Bradshaw
Oct 10, 2014 Kalleigh Bradshaw rated it liked it
I have to say that this book is not my favorite. The reason is that I would get lost in the web of words. I couldn't really follow what was happening but from what I gathered, this book is about a young girl who left home. She got in trouble many times with the law. She burned down the warehouse she lived in with a few other people. One girl from the warehouse owned a bar that was a few blocks from the warehouse itself. I don't think I would recommend this book to anyone but if I had to say one ...more
Katherine Eble
Apr 25, 2015 Katherine Eble rated it really liked it
Two summers put together. The main character is never fully explained. The fire, comparing this summer to the last, giving to a development to a not completely understood character. These are all things that make the story beautiful. As you are reading this story you can imagine Kid however you want, since there is no defined description of him. Kid is like a side to everyone, one that all people have. The setting is in a place that we are all aware of. It causes you to ask the right amount of q ...more
Jan 31, 2016 Marika rated it really liked it
Shelves: grsm-books
This novel is a bit of an odd one. Throughout the course of the story you never do receive any indication of either of the two primary characters' genders. I am given to like that particular quirk of it. However, in order to make that possible, it is narrated in the first person as if it were a story being told directly towards the second main character. 'I' and 'you' are the pronouns used to describe the two characters throughout the book. I probably would have preferred avoiding that peculiar ...more
Jul 02, 2016 cassidy rated it liked it
“We hardly spoke, because all night “good-bye” tried to find my lips from where it was stuck in my throat, like a pill that wouldn’t go all the way down, so I pushed it back with sip after sip of my drink.”

There are so many mixed feelings inside of me. With a strange writing style, enigmatic characters, and a unique look at summertime in Brooklyn and what it means to be human, Brooklyn, Burning, was absolutely nothing I expected. The protagonist, Kid, has no defined sexuality or gender. The no
Dec 08, 2014 Cynthia rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbtq, ya
It’s summer in Brooklyn, and summer, for Kid, is the season of freedom and music and love. Last summer, Kid fell in love with Felix. This summer, someone new appears: Scout. Scout arrives in Brooklyn, holding a flyer that Kid and Felix once made and asking for Felix. But Felix is gone. And as the summer goes on and Kid falls in love again, the truth about what happened—with Felix, with the warehouse that for a time was Kid and Felix’s home but has recently been burnt down—gradually comes out.

Precy Larkins
Jan 19, 2014 Precy Larkins rated it it was amazing
The magic and charm of Brooklyn, Burning lies in its masterful, lyrical prose. The author took risks by switching into different POVs and alternating between the past and the present, but he did it so well that it didn't jerk me, the reader, out of the story. Instead, it let me dive in and then float along with the waves. I was entranced by the beauty of it all.

There are several angles in this book to draw perspectives from--we can talk about the *LGBTQ characters, the setting, the central theme
Maggie Desmond-O'Brien
Feb 18, 2012 Maggie Desmond-O'Brien rated it it was amazing
As a subgenre, literary YA can be tricky. An author not only has to have the writing chops to impress adult reviewers; they have to have a premise strong and relevant enough to attract teens. Do it wrong and you end up with straight adult literary fiction, or worse: a bad book. (See: an awful lot of bad books.) With Brooklyn, Burning, Steve Brezenoff comes within a hair's breadth of doing it wrong - but pulls back from the edge just in time to give us one of the strongest releases in any genre, ...more
Jan 28, 2013 Amy rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 18, 2011 Hannah rated it it was amazing
Brooklyn, Burning is one of those books where you don't even notice how great it is while reading it; only once you've finished it do you see how incredibly good it really is. (At least, that's how it was for me.) It doesn't have one set topic or storyline, and while reading it, I wasn't all that impressed. There was nothing wrong with it, but it didn't really seem all that special, either. Only once I'd turned the last page did I see all the subtleties and how inconspicuously amazing Brooklyn, ...more
Christine Crawford
Sep 11, 2011 Christine Crawford rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
There were things I really liked and things I didn't like about this book. Here they are:
1. The author does a really good job of creating a sense of place. You really get a feel for Brooklyn while reading this and I am not really familiar with Brooklyn, so that's saying something.
2. The story is very sweet and satisfying. It's really just about love and how that's the most important thing in the world, which is hard to complain about.
3. I like that it is a fictional story based on a real event (
Apr 13, 2012 Kaalomai rated it it was ok
actually more like one and a half stars. im being very hard on it but i did end up skimming the last half of the book because though i wanted to find out how it resolved, the writing was just not grabbing me and im not sure why. part of it was that it jumped around alot and used "you" to describe two separate characters, one past and one present and so i was never sure who or where we were in the story. not great for getting the reader involved. when i read the writers note in the back i thought ...more
Dec 09, 2011 Ashley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
Steve Brezenoff's latest novel, Brooklyn, Burning, sets the bar high for punk-friendly, slacker-sweet, gender-indifferent YA. And it takes on the issues facing many LGBT teens in the wisest way possible: by refusing to make those issues all that the book is about.

Brooklyn, Burning's strongest statement about gender and sexual identity comes through what goes unsaid. The biological sex of the two main characters is never explicitly identified, and the "you" and "I" and strategic phrasing that ma
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So.... what's this book about? 5 25 Oct 21, 2012 07:58AM  
Bookbent: April/May/June 2012 - Brooklyn, Burning 4 18 Jun 18, 2012 02:54PM  
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Steve Brezenoff is the author of the young adult novels The Absolute Value of -1 and Brooklyn, Burning, and his third, Guy In Real Life, will be released in 2014. He has also written dozens of chapter books for younger readers. Though Steve grew up in a suburb on Long Island, he now lives with his wife and their son in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
More about Steve Brezenoff...

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“We're in love. You can't hurt us.” 5 likes
“Your song crept over me as I drifted, the room spinning ever so slightly, and I rolled onto my side and pulled up my knees, facing the back of the couch, and put my hands up together by my chin, like your music was a blanket I could gather around me.” 4 likes
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