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  • Posted September 2, 2014

    more from this reviewer

      Ben's summer after high school graduation is spent hanging out

      Ben's summer after high school graduation is spent hanging out with friends and packing up for the move--his mom, dad, and brother to Reno and Ben to college.  He meets a Roma girl, Lala, whose family is telling fortunes outside the gate of the Burning Man festival.  Ben feels the burden of leaving his younger brother, who is gay, to fend for himself; Lala is unsure if going through with an arranged marriage is the destiny she hopes for.  

    Although the book is probably best marketed as a romance, there are alot of things happening which make it more than just the story of teen/new adult lust.  There is lots of information about the Roma/Romani culture; Lala tells the reader that either of those terms are preferred over the Anglocized "gypsy" but uses "gypsy" many times throughout the book.  She seems to use Ben to turn away from many of the ways of her people but it works within the story.  Will they or won't they -- be together physically, be together forever?  The ending was a bit of a surprise.  Teen girls will love this quick read.

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  • Posted October 10, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    3.5 Stars  Overall, I did enjoy Burning.  Ben and Lala are two t

    3.5 Stars
     Overall, I did enjoy Burning.  Ben and Lala are two teens who are on completely different paths, when those paths just happen to collide.  Ben is on his way to college, and Lala and her family are gypies - fortune tellers, tarot cards, and the like.  Both love their families, yet have questions of they need to find out on their own.  They are drawn to each other, but in Lala's culture, a relationship with Ben is something that is frowned up, especially considering the fact that her marriage has already been arranged.  Nevertheless they decide to explore their feelings for one another and end up discovering a lot about themselves along the way.   

    It was very fascinating learning about the Gypsy world, which is something that  I didn't know very much about.  It was also interesting to learn about the Burning Man Festival that they attended.  The story is told in alternating POV's, from both Ben and Lala.  The secondary characters were interesting also.  Ben and Lala definitely have chemistry, but they each have their own goals and desires also.  The story is very well written.  The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the ending.  I am a huge HEA fan, and this ended on a sad note, though not devastatingly so, but still too sad for me, though in the long run, could probably be considered best for the characters.  I am sure that it is something that some readers will appreciate, while others may not.  Overall, Burning is a good story for YA contemporary romance fans.  

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  • Posted August 17, 2013

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    Burning by Elana Arnold is a wonderful story of star crossed lov

    Burning by Elana Arnold is a wonderful story of star crossed lovers.  It’s a story that I had a difficult time putting down.  It had me really hoping for the a happily ever after for this unforgettable character.  It opened my eyes to a whole different way of life when it came to the traditions and beliefs of gypsies, and it gives the reader a real inside look at what happens when a town is dying and the effects it has on the residents.

    The story follows main characters Ben and Lala.  Ben is on his way in starting a new chapter of his life.  Leaving his hometown that is soon to be a ghost town after its main resource is no longer valuable, Ben has a free ride to college.  But Ben is not as excited as he should be about leaving.  Sure, he’s leaving behind his best friends and he can’t help but feel guilty for what fortune lands in his lap.  He also won’t be able to protect his brother from college.

    Lala and her family make a living off of telling fortunes to strangers.  The life of a gypsy is one that not everyone understands, but it’s all that Lala knows.  An arranged marriage to her sister’s husbands brother, Lala’s future is pretty laid out.  But a chance encounter with one, Ben Stanley, alters everything.

    As a farewell gift, Ben’s buddies buy him a Tarot card reading from Lala.  But when Lala reads in Ben’s cards not only affects him, but has her rethinking what she thought her life should be, and starts to think about what life would be like…especially with Ben.

    But with a strict upbringing with equally strict traditions, will the stars align for Ben and Lala?  Or will everything fall apart before it even had a chance to grow.

    Sweet, romantic, and full of hope is what I would describe Burning by Elana K. Arnold.  I loved the meeting between Ben and Lala.  I loved how the chapters are told in the voice of Ben and Lala.  It really helped me connect with these characters.  I thought it was really fascinating to read about the gypsy culture and what they believed.  It totally blew my mind what they think of women, especially during that time of the month.  All I really know of the gypsy traditions is what I’ve seen in “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding”.  I found it totally fascinating.

    In true Romeo & Juliet style, we are introduced to a couple who, I felt, need to be together!  Without a doubt!  But don’t even get me started on the ending!  I believe my exact words were “What?!!!”  Yah, you’ll have to read the book to see why…

    It broke my heart to see how the effects of a dying town.  To read about the different families that are packing up and leaving the only home they’ve known.  To watch relationships/friendships come to an end because of this change.  My wish is that Ben and his best friends can withstand this big change, and remain close friends.  Because honestly, I loved their friendship.

    Fans of contemporary reads and stories about star crossed lovers will completely eat up Burning by Elana K. Arnold.  It really is a story that readers won’t forget.

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  • Posted July 28, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    'Burning' is a beautifully written young adult novel full of rom

    'Burning' is a beautifully written young adult novel full of romance. It follows teenage gypsy Lala and her family as they earn money by telling fortunes alongside the road. Lala brings in lots of customers with her accurate readings, but lately she's been questioning her lifestyle and if it's really what she wants out of life. The book also follows Ben, who has just graduated high school and is looking forward to escaping his small hometown for college in San Diego. His future is filled with hope and he intends to get away from the town that's falling down around itself. Before leaving for college, Ben decides to hang out with his best friends and goes to visit the gypsies nearby. When Lala ends up reading Ben's cards, Ben's life - and hers - will never be the same again.

    This was a wonderful YA contemporary novel that revolves around love, hope, romance, and and self discovery. I thought that the characters were unique and very realistic - which made me immediately like them. The characters of Ben and Lala are so different from each other - it's as plain as day that they are opposites - but together they seem to complete each other; to fill a space in the other that neither even knew existed. The setting was perfect for the novel - the desert provided the perfect sense of isolation yet community that the characters needed. The writing was mesmerizing and I couldn't put the book down - which is saying something since I don't normally go for YA contemporary fiction. I was immediately drawn into the author's lyrical prose and the vivid details and descriptions. The story's pace was well done and the plot seemed to flow naturally. This is a perfect summer read for fans of YA contemporary fiction! It's definitely not a book you should miss out on!

    Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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