Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Released: September 1, 2011
When you're sixteen and no one understands who you are, sometimes the only choice left is to run. If you're lucky, you'll find a place that accepts you, no questions asked. And if you're really lucky, that place has a drum set, a place to practice, and a place to sleep. For Kid, the streets of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, are that place. Over the course of two scorching summers, Kid falls hopelessly in love and then loses nearly everything and everyone worth caring about. But as summer draws to a close, Kid finally finds someone who can last beyond the sunset.Last summer, one of the very first review copies I received via blog tour was a debut titled The Absolute Value of -1. I honestly don't recall what drew me to this novel - my love for contemporary or my excitement over actually getting a review copy - but it blew me away. It was gritty and beautifully Courtney-Summers-esque. I named it one of my favorite books of the year and called it the most under-appreciated debut of 2010 - a title I don't give out flippantly. I heard about Steve's new novel some time in the spring and was completely stoked to see him on the signing list at BEA. I had the great pleasure of meeting him and getting signed finished copies of both his novels. So, when it came time to read Brooklyn, Burning, I was a little nervous. What if I didn't like it?
I picked it up first thing upon arriving home from New York and I didn't.
And then I freaked out. As someone who reviews books, who via twitter and email and conferences can "befriend" authors, there is a fine line I must walk to keep my credibility. I sang Steve's praises after reading |-1| last year, and I mentioned in my BEA recap post he was a really nice guy. So if I don't like his book I can a) be honest and feel guilty or b) lie and lose all integrity.
The third option would be to not read it, not review it, and pray Steve never asked me what I thought of it. But, lucky me, I signed up for a blog tour. So I had to read it. By today. So I picked it back up yesterday, and hoped that I could get further than the first chapter (which is about as far as I'd gotten the first time I picked it up.)
And can I just say that there are some books out there that deserve a second chance?! The beginning was a little tough - the ambiguousness of the main character, the first person/second person point of view. It's definitely different, but different is why I liked Steve's first novel.
What I liked most about this novel is that it's a love story - not a romance - a love story. It's about Kid's love for Felix. It's about his love for Fish, for Jonny, for Konny. It's about his love for Brooklyn, for the warehouse. It's about his love for Scout. And, ultimately, it's about his love for himself. This novel could easily be described as an "issue" book, and it is, but it's also more than that. Because while it involves a runaway teen, drugs and booze, sex, and gender non-conformity (although we never actually know Kid's gender), it is the truest love story I've ever read.
So thanks, Steve, for writing it.
While in New York, I picked up an extra copy of Brooklyn, Burning for one of you! Just fill out the form below for your chance to win. Entrants must be 13 years of age or older and a resident of the United States. Deadline to enter is Sunday, September 4, 11:59PM CST. (Pssst... by the way, IT'S SIGNED!)