Burning by Elana K. Arnold, NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble


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by Elana K. Arnold

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Ben: Having just graduated from high school, Ben is set to leave Gypsum, Nevada. It's good timing since the gypsum mine that is the lifeblood of the area is closing, shutting the whole town down with it. Ben is lucky: he's headed to San Diego, where he's got a track scholarship at the University of California. But his best friends, Pete and Hog Boy, don't have


Ben: Having just graduated from high school, Ben is set to leave Gypsum, Nevada. It's good timing since the gypsum mine that is the lifeblood of the area is closing, shutting the whole town down with it. Ben is lucky: he's headed to San Diego, where he's got a track scholarship at the University of California. But his best friends, Pete and Hog Boy, don't have college to look forward to, so to make them happy, Ben goes with them to check out the hot chick parked on the side of Highway 447. 

Lala: She and her Gypsy family earn money by telling fortunes. Some customers choose Tarot cards; others have their palms read. The thousands of people attending the nearby Burning Man festival spend lots of cash--especially as Lala gives uncanny readings. But lately Lala's been questioning whether there might be more to life than her upcoming arranged marriage. And the day she reads Ben's cards is the day that everything changes for her. . . and for him.

Editorial Reviews

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
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)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
14 Years

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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