cover image Burn, Baby, Burn

Burn, Baby, Burn

Meg Medina. Candlewick, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7467-0

As high school graduation nears, Nora López and her best friend Kathleen are looking forward to going to the beach, dancing, and being free. But that’s hard when Nora’s mother expects her to keep an eye on her out-of-control younger brother, Hector, and run interference with her absent father—and a serial killer is on the loose. Nora is strong and believable, a possible romance has heat, and Medina (Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass) gets gritty 1977 New York City right: feminism and disco in the air, Son of Sam, and—come July—the blackout and the ensuing looting and fires. The weak spot is Hector: he’s invariably angry and increasingly violent, and the book falls into a cycle of petty (and not so petty) crime, disbelief, and realization. Fortunately, the other elements in this coming-of-age story are elegantly and eloquently explored: the difficulties of finding a place to make out with a serial killer around, the new opportunities opening up for women, and Nora’s growing ability to envision the life she wants. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Mar.)