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Burn Baby Burn

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  2,760 Ratings  ·  597 Reviews
Nora Lopez is seventeen during the infamous year 1977 in New York.

After a freezing winter, a boiling hot summer explodes with arson, a blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam, who is shooting young people on the streets seemingly at random.

Not only is the city a disaster, but Nora has troubles of her own: her brother, Hector, is growing more uncontrollable by the da
Hardcover, 310 pages
Published March 8th 2016 by Candlewick Press
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Monica Davis There is discussion about sex and virginity, but no sex scenes. Only kissing!

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jv poore
I read Burn Baby Burn back in the summer of 2016. Borrowed from the library, I blew through it. Unable to underline along the way (obviously) and unwilling to pause to scrawl notes, I returned it without writing a review.

And I’ve regretted it. A lot. The story seeped into my very soul and still, arbitrary parts pop into my head. I tend to think of these characters as if they were actual people I’d encountered, albeit briefly…and overtly noted…destined to never meet again.


I can go back and

Burn Baby Burn promises to be not just any young-adult tale. No, this one is set against New York’s worst summer: 1977, when Son of Sam was on a killing spree. It’s an exciting angle--except it takes a back seat to other big issues.

Medina’s goal was to bring this terrifying time to vivid life by depicting likable teen narrator Nora Lopez living amidst this chaos (with some notable adjustments to her normal routine to ensure her safety). It’s unfortunate, therefore, that the Son
May 03, 2017 rated it really liked it

( Poem sent to the New York Daily News by Son of Sam)


I was close to Nora López's age in 1977, though tucked away as I was in a Pennsylvania suburb, the Son of Sam murders seemed a world away. For 17-year-old Queens resident, Nora, the shootings might easily be happening on the very street where she lives. And, considering the killer
Feb 16, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Latina main character, troubled family, romance, feminist movement, disco, 70s New York, a serial killer, a blackout, fires.

This is a perfectly fine YA novel that hits all the right buttons and checks all the right boxes and teaches all the right lessons (hence, I guess, 4 starred reviews in major publications). The family part was probably the most interesting to me.

However, this is not the kind of book that I would ever be compelled to read again. No aspect of it was truly memorable
Book Riot Community
I try not to read books too ahead of their publishing date because then I’m shouting at people that they have to read a book that they have to wait to read BUT this book had too many boxes checked off for me that I couldn’t wait. I tried and failed, especially after doing the just-one-page because I ended up not being able to stop turning the pages. I was hooked from the beginning with Nora, a high school senior about to graduate, living in New York during the summer of Sam (1977). And while the ...more
I'm not usually a fan of New York novels. I think for the most part they reach a really niche market. Medina, though, takes this in a place that made me really invested, as it's about the historical summer of 1977 when the city was burning and a serial killer named Son of Sam is on the loose. Nora, our narrator, is Latina, and her best friend is a white girl. Both of them are deeply invested in feminism, but what Medina does is offer a look at the ways feminism isn't necessarily inclusive, eithe ...more
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book.
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
When I heard of this book, I was very eager to read it. Hey, I was around during this time, 1977, and living in Philadelphia, and remember the news and the terrifying environment created by the Son of Sam murders. I wanted to read how author Meg Medina covered that time period.

As I started this book, I was caught realizing the main character, Nora Lopez, was a teenage girl of seventeen, almost eighteen, and Nora was realizing some very hard truths. My first reaction was "oh, great, a young adult
Read for the second time. Enjoyed it even more this go around. While I found the historical setting interesting, what I enjoyed most were the characters--complex and honest.
I really enjoyed this. I haven't read a whole lot of non-contemporary YA (or that isn't SF-Fantasy) and the setting in this is so strong and important it's almost a character on its own. I loved seeing blips of the women's movement through the eyes of Nora and Kathleen! Nora was a great character, and I'm glad I got the chance to see the world through her eyes - even when it was bleak. I wanted to give this book a hug when it was over. ❤

This quote kind of says it all (from the Author's Note): "B
Sarah Hannah
This is sooooo much better than Yaqui Delgado. Also, it's just good. A great example of how people of color can exist in ALL historical fiction, not just Issue Books, and it also gets points for being about kids who may or may not go to college, but it's not guaranteed--AND that doesn't make you an underachiever, a loser, or unintelligent. This book is a great way to upset most socioeconomics narratives in YA.
4.5 stars but worth rounding up - an ambitious project, really well done. I'd love some teen feedback on this one - recent historical fiction / coming-of-age stories can be a tough sell sometimes, and I wonder if this one might have more adult-recommending-to-teens appeal than teens gravitating to it on their own.

Especially strong: the narrative voice kept solidly to Nora's relatively innocent perspective without feeling like it was talking down.
Sarah Laurence
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the best YA novels I've ever read. Burn Baby Burn is on the National Book Award Long List and deserves to win. Review coming later.
Ben Babcock
It was OK, I guess? I expected more fire, given the title. Burn Baby Burn is more of a slow simmer, though, without much payoff. I sped through it in an afternoon, and while it was not a bad book with which to pass the time sitting outside, it also wasn’t too remarkable.

There were a few places that Meg Medina made me angry—in a good way. It’s 1977. Nora Lopez is 17, and when she should be thinking about life after high school, she is instead forced to hold her family together. Her mother is on t
Prince William Public Library System
Reasons to love Meg Medina: She's an author from Richmond, Virginia, and her books are great.

If you're thinking of the disco song when you see the "Burn Baby Burn" title, you've got an idea of the time. Set in NYC in the 1970s, Nora Lopez is aching to move out of her mother's apartment, and get out of high school. With a stressful mother, and a violent, drug addicted brother, Nora's ready to get out. She spends the summer working, suffering through the vicious heatwave, and living in fear of th
Amanda Bishop
I would have liked to give this a higher rating, but I feel two stars is fair, considering I wasn't exactly disappointed (given my considerably low expectations going in), but still felt it a chore to complete this book. The synopsis makes it sound like it's a fast-paced mystery, but the murderer is literally in the background. He takes a back burner to the romance. Nora, the narrator, is far more concerned with her new boyfriend than a serial killer, and when he is finally caught, it is an extr ...more
Meg Medina is one of my favorite YA authors writing today. I really, REALLY liked her book YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS, and shout my love for it to the hills and any patron who will listen to me. So when I saw that Medina had written a new book called BURN BABY BURN and that it took place during the Summer of Son of Sam in Queens, New York, I ripped it off the shelf at work and hoarded it like dragon's gold.

Nora Lopez is starting out the last semester of high school, and she can't wait
Amy's Book Reviews
Grade: D

One Word: Bleak

Nora eagerly anticipates graduating from high school and moving out of the apartment she shares with her abusive brother and ineffectual, depressed mother. Son of Sam is on the loose, arsons burn buildings too close to home and money for rent and food is scarce. A new love interest and her supportive best friend give Nora some respite from her dismal home life and lack of support from her parents.

I was a teenager in 1977 and remember the hunt for Son of Sam, but I grew up
Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Another great little book I picked up because I saw that a Goodreads friend had read it. This app has greatly improved the overall quality of the books I pick up to read. Thanks, friends.

I read this book this evening, it kept me up till one in the morning. One of the most effective parts of the writing was the author's ability to make danger ever-present and the fear people felt about the Son of Sam in NYC palpable. It is the fictionalized account of a young woman who isn't safe on the streets o
I'm so glad I finally got to this! It's the first book by Meg Medina I've read or listened to, and now I need to get all of them.

It's a nuanced, moving, and fast-paced young-adult novel. The narrative voice and the ways Meg Medina developed a detailed picture of 1977 in Sunnyside, Queens, were outstanding. There's a broke NYC, Son of Sam, disco, punk, a heatwave, and a black-out, but there are also little things like Alexander's department store and Huckapoo shirts.

The MC's decisions to keep im
Sarah Sexton
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm really loving the slice of life books right now.
Anna Smithberger
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a great, compelling read! The characters and the setting are both so rich, with a plot that pulls you forward. I especially appreciated a straightforward and nuanced depiction of growing up with an abusive sibling.
Hilary Martin
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I knew I would like this book but I was surprised at how much I loved it! If you like disco, psycho killers, juvenile pyros, teen love and dysfunctional families this book is for you! Love love love love love it!
Oct 02, 2016 rated it liked it
I received a copy of Burn Baby Burn from Walker Books Australia in exchange for an honest review.

I haven’t read a lot about serial killers so I didn’t know much about Son of Sam going into this but I’d heard the name before. Even after finishing the book and reading the things he did I haven’t looked him up. Son of Sam wasn’t the focus of the book. It was set during the time that he was killing innocent people at random.

Burn Baby Burn didn’t just follow what happened the summer of 1977, it also
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing

I read this one for my YA book club (okay, I was the one who suggested reading it because it was sitting on my shelf) and I am so happy I read it for *me* rather than for my students.

I am often complaining that the books that get Printz attention and become compulsive purchases for librarians and easy adds to a summer reading list aren't the kinds of books that I think teens should be reading. Rather, they tend to be the kinds of books that adults who already love to read love to read.

Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
I read this way too quickly so this will include some summary (light spoilers). I love the writing style and the focus on character - Nora and her family and friends are very believable. But perhaps the most interesting part of the novel is the setting - NYC in 1977 during the Son of Sam murders and the blackout. I'd heard of these events but had never thought of their implications and living through them with Nora was fascinating and horrifying. I Love the discussion of 70s feminism through bot ...more
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book will resonate with all readers who are forced to take on parental roles within their family and who struggle to juggle being a teen-ager and a parent. Nora has a part-time job, a new boyfriend, a possible college experience and lots of people who care about her, except her father, who is totally engrossed in his "new" family, her brother who is full of rage, drugs and is perhaps mentally ill and her mother who just capitulates into the difficulties of holding a job and understanding he ...more
Very impressive book from Meg Medina against a dangerous summer backdrop when Son of Sam is killing couples all over New York. Nora, the MC, is itching for freedom but it's tough with unknown evils lurking... not only in her city, but in her home. Nora is also about to leave high school, is nervous about being separated from her best friend, and also starting to get overwhelmed by the amount of secrets she has been keeping. There is SO much to take in in BURN BABY BURN; I loved the 70s backdrop, ...more
Abby Johnson
Jun 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Set in the explosive NYC summer of 1977, this story brings the tension of that summer to life through the story of a Latina girl trying to figure out her future and deal with family problems. While Son of Sam is terrorizing the city, murdering young ladies and sending cryptic notes to the news, Nora is just trying to make it through graduation and figure out a way to escape her disastrous home life. Her younger brother Hector is a powder keg, liable to explode and hurt Nora or their mom at the s ...more
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This was a very gripping and compelling read. I have been reading/watching so many things about this particular period in 1970s New York, and I think there's something extremely relatable about the sense of disillusionment and chaos considering our current period of unrest and political quagmire. The relationships in this are so real and vivid, and Nora is the kind of female heroine I love seeing in YA - she's strong but struggling with what it means to grow up, to be herself and love the people ...more
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I'm Meg Medina, Latina author of libros for kids of all ages. I'm about strong girls, tough circumstances, and the connecting power of culture. I am the author of several picture books, middle grade books, and young adult novels, including Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, which is currently being optioned for Hulu.

I have been honored with the Pura Belpré award twice, an Ezra Jack Keats award
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“Nothing ends. There is only transformation, ugly as it may be.” 0 likes
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