Burning

( 6 )

Overview

A sizzling love story between a small-town boy and a Gypsy girl unfolds as the Burning Man festival is in full swing. 

Ben, a small-town boy from Gypsum, Nevada, and Lala, a gypsy girl in town to read fortunes for the tourists who have come for the annual Burning Man festival, are from two completely different worlds. In the fall, Ben will be going off to college, and Lala will be entering into an arranged marriage. But this summer, each of them is searching for something ...

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Burning

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Overview

A sizzling love story between a small-town boy and a Gypsy girl unfolds as the Burning Man festival is in full swing. 

Ben, a small-town boy from Gypsum, Nevada, and Lala, a gypsy girl in town to read fortunes for the tourists who have come for the annual Burning Man festival, are from two completely different worlds. In the fall, Ben will be going off to college, and Lala will be entering into an arranged marriage. But this summer, each of them is searching for something more . . . And one sizzling summer day when Lala reads Ben’s cards, everything changes for both of them.
 

A Bankstreet Best Book of the Year

A Los Angeles Public Library Best Book 

“Seductive and uplifting . . . An absolutely perfect summer read.” —Andrew Smith, author of Winger and The Marbury Lens

“A story of forbidden love, great risk, and, ultimately, transformation. Readers will find themselves moved beyond words.” —Nova Ren Suma, author of Imaginary Girls and 17 & Gone

“Wholly compelling and full of surprises.” —Pam Houston, author of Cowboys Are My Weakness

"Lyrical and inspirational."—Kirkus Reviews

"Readers looking for a romantic coming-of-age novel won’t be disappointed."—SLJ

"The stirrings of an unconventional first love and the new freedoms that lie in wait for Lala and Ben provide readers ample reason to keep turning pages"—Publisher's Weekly

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a coming-of-age romance driven by a vivid sense of place, Ben Stanley is preparing to head to college, and he's not the only one leaving. His entire town of Gypsum, Nev., is about to be abandoned with the shuttering of the local mine. Lala White, meanwhile, has traveled to the desert for the Burning Man festival, where her Romani family plans to make money by telling Burners' fortunes. Lala is unhappily betrothed to another gypsy, Romeo; when she meets Ben while telling fortunes, she considers the possibility of a different life. Arnold (Sacred) conveys Ben and Lala's growing attraction through their alternating perspectives; Ben also grapples with feelings of obligation and increasing detachment from his best friends, as well as worry over the welfare of his gay younger brother. In Arnold's effort to affect a gypsy dialect and show cultural difference, Lala's voice can be stilted and formal, yet the stirrings of an unconventional first love and the new freedoms that lie in wait for Lala and Ben provide readers ample reason to keep turning pages. Ages 14–up. Agent: Rubin Pfeffer, East West Literary. (June)
From the Publisher
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2013:
"Lyrical and inspirational."

School Library Journal Teen, May 1, 2013:
"No doubt, a great, unexpected ending."

VOYA - Cassandra Rondinella
Ben's world is changing. The mine is closing and so is the town he calls home. His family is preparing to move to Reno to start over and he is getting ready to leave for college with a track scholarship. Lala is a gypsy girl who will be married the day after her eighteenth birthday in an arranged marriage. The ancient customs of her gypsy people prevent her breaking this promise or she will bring shame upon her family when they have to return the $15,000 bride price that was given many years ago, and she would risk being disowned by her family. At the beginning of the week-long Burning Man festival, Lala and her family set up their tent to read fortunes to attendees as a way to earn extra money on their trip home to Portland. Ben and his buddies travel to her tent to have their fortunes told as a last hoorah before they all leave. When Ben and Lala meet, their lives change and each must decide whether to change the course of their lives to pursue the lives they think they were meant to live. In the world of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and many other reality TV shows, there is a lack of cultural understanding and a misconception of what many cultures are about. Arnold tells a beautiful love story between two young people while masterfully educating the reader about the Gypsy culture and their history from Lala's perspective. This book is an excellent addition to any YA library collection. Reviewer: Cassandra Rondinella
Kirkus Reviews
A white boy afraid to leave his family meets a Romani girl who wants a brief romantic encounter in the Nevada desert. Lala's family sells used cars in Portland, Ore., but is spending a week in the blistering heat of Nevada in order to fleece the gazhè who come to Burning Man; surely the hippies will pay generously to have their fortunes told. Ben lives in a company town that's dying along with its shuttering gypsum mine. In alternating chapters, Lala and Ben tell of their coming-of-age crises: Lala fears the stifling sameness of her coming arranged marriage, while Ben is ashamed of the track scholarship that will provide his escape to college while his family and neighbors leave their soon-to-be ghost town for unemployment. Lala, for Ben, is his brief summer dalliance, the manic pixie dream girl who distracts him from his fears. Ben, for Lala, is the trigger she uses to take control of and redirect her life. Lala's a powerful and independent young woman, though she also exhibits too many romantic gypsy tropes, with her "mess of dark curls...wild" and cascading over an hourglass figure, speaking in contraction-free sentences that entice Ben with their foreignness. Lyrical and inspirational, though Lala's inexplicably outsider view of her own culture, complete with sneers at harmless cultural practices, is a deeply jarring note. (Fiction. 14-17)
Children's Literature - Lisa Colozza Cocca
The housing construction business has gone bust and the small mining town of Gypsum, Nevada is suffering. When the market for sheetrock dips, the mines close, leaving the townspeople without jobs. Ben is among the handful of students that comprise the final graduating class from the Gypsum high school. An outstanding athlete and student, Ben has received a full scholarship to college. This is an advantage his best friends, Pete and Hog Boy, don't have. During the summer between high school and college, Ben meets Lala. Her family has come to the desert to make money from the tourists who go to the Burning Man Festival there. Lala, a Romani gypsy, is a fortune teller. Her parents have promised her hand to a man and they are set to marry as soon as she turns eighteen. When Ben and Lala meet, it is love (or lust) at first sight. A relationship between the two is forbidden, so when Lala crosses the line, her family shuns her and she must find a life on her own. The novel is told from Ben's and Lala's point-of-view in alternating chapters. This helps show the stark differences between the two. Ben is portrayed as caring and concerned about how his choices affect Lala, his family, and his friends. Lala advises him at one point to focus on himself, and let others take care of themselves. She adopts this attitude in her own life, placing her desire for freedom above the effects of her actions on others. Rich imagery throughout makes the setting seem like a character itself in this multicultural coming-of-age story. Reviewer: Lisa Colozza Cocca
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Gypsum, Nevada, is quickly becoming a ghost town as the local mine shuts down and people go elsewhere. Ben Stanley and his family are among the last of those leaving. Ben is going to college on a track scholarship while his family moves to Reno. At the local Burning Man festival, he meets Lala, the daughter of a Gypsy leader, who tells fortunes for anyone who stops by, including Ben. The two feel drawn to each other. However, Lala is engaged to a Gypsy boy, with the marriage scheduled in the fall as soon as she turns 18. Talking to a gazhò like Ben outside the fortune-telling tent is forbidden. But Lala, chafing under the limitations of a Gypsy woman's life, turns a chance encounter with Ben into a ride out in the desert where their mutual attraction deepens. When her father, fiancé, and her fiancé's brother find them, the two younger men attack Ben. Lala stops them, but her actions make her a marimè, an outcast. The story ends with the two young lovers making decisions about their futures. Ben and Lala take turns narrating the story, giving readers both perspectives of their relationship. Several subplots contrast Ben's plans with those of his family and friends. The background information about the Gypsies and their unusual lifestyle in the United States provides an interesting foundation to the story. Readers looking for a romantic coming-of-age novel won't be disappointed.—Diana Pierce, formerly at Leander High School, TX
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385743341
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 6/11/2013
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 796,552
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

ELANA K. ARNOLD completed her M.A. in Creative Writing/Fiction at the University of California, Davis. Her previous novel for young adults is Sacred.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 12, 2013

    Burning is a story told from the alternating first-person points

    Burning is a story told from the alternating first-person points of view of two young people, each at a crossroads in their lives. When those crossroads intersect one summer, their lives are forever changed.

    Is Ben a perfect character? Is Lala? No. And thank goodness for that...personally, I'm more interested in the stories of flawed, faceted people than the promise of a Happily Ever After, or a story sanitized into absolute political correctness.

    Burning is a story that will make you hope, yearn, and THINK. It's both a spellbinding summer page-turner and an important commentary on freedom, fate, and self-determination. Highly recommended!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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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 September 1, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Burning by Elana K. Arnold was a big surprise for me, the disapp

    Burning by Elana K. Arnold was a big surprise for me, the disappointing kind. I have to put part of the blame on myself because I assumed Burning was going to be a cute beach contemporary, set on the coast in the summer. What I got was a book set in the middle of the desert, a gypsy whose family almost made me DNF the book, and insta-love that made me cringe. The two main characters have a "love at first sight" moment when they first meet. I should have known that was a sign that this book wasn't for me. Then, we have the whole girl being a gypsy and being inferior to the men in the family and having to submit to an arranged marriage, as well as being the stereotypical house wife from the 1950s. As for the love interest, Ben, I actually liked a bit. His friends, or at least one of them, was a bit too crude to my liking. I just don't appreciate reading sexist dialogues in books, we get enough of that in the real world. The plot, was pretty much lacking. The whole plot is about these "star crossed" lovers that can't find a way to be together. The only reason I kept reading is for the ending, but I should have guessed even the ending would be bad. Yes, the ending was pretty bad. I just did not enjoy this book at all and don't understand the point of it. I would not recommend this book to anyone, even contemporary fans.

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  • Posted August 17, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    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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