Review: Burning by Elana K. Arnold + Giveaway

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Rating: 5/5 stars
Pub Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Press (imprint of Random House)
Genre: young adult contemporary
Format/Source: DRC, Netgalley
Status: Standalone

Summary:
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.

Reivew:
Disclaimer: I obtained a copy of Burning from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was intrigued by the cover and description for Burning when I found it on Netgalley so I gave it a shot and was approved for a copy. I read the first couple pages and was completely hooked. If it weren't for work, I would have read the entire thing in one sitting. Right now, I'm really drawn in by novels featuring split perspective. It's like two novels in one when you experience two characters.
Ben is...perfect. There's no way around it. I really wish I knew a guy like Ben in real life. I don't mean he's perfect as in he always does the best thing. Rather, Ben always tries to do the best thing. Ben's narrative is exquisitely saturated with his emotions, predominantly guilt for abandoning his loved ones, relief for escaping, and desire for Lala. It's raw and real. I felt completely like I was in the head of an actual 18-year old boy/man on the eve of his separation from his childhood, the life he's always known.

Then there's Gypsy Lala. I really never considered Gypsy culture much before, but it was really interesting to read Lala's chapters because her life was so different from anything I've ever known before. I love Lala's formal speech and her drive to know more. She's incredibly perspective, even for a member of her family, which makes for some really fantastic scenes, like Ben's Tarot reading. I loved reading Lala's evolution throughout the novel, her love of her family fighting against her need to be free. I really felt for her.

This was my first Elana K. Arnold, and it definitely won't be my last. Elana's words flow like poetry, creating gorgeously vivid images and intense feelings for the characters and their problems. I tend to get very drawn into my reading because that's the way I read, but Elana's words would have forced me to care even if I were a different kind of reader. Lala and Ben were characters I would love to know and befriend. The supporting characters were just as integral: James, Pete, even Hog Boy. I wanted to be in Gypsum, swim in the pond, experience the Burning Man festival (well, parts of it...). I could see all of this, and I wanted it for myself.

Burning is deep and thoughtful. It makes statements without being pushy or moral. I like that the characters were able to grow and change realistically, even in such a short amount of time. The ending is definitely bittersweet, but I honestly can't see it resolving in any other way. It felt true to the characters, to the situation. Nothing was forced; it was completely natural, as if Elana were simply relaying a true story. To me, that's the mark of a fantastic novel.

Recommended for: A realistic contemporary
Not recommended for: Anyone offended by language, sex, or a different culture. The sex and language is natural and not overly present, but the culture shock between typical American culture and Lala's life is somewhat severe. If you're not willing to be open-minded and respectful about the differences, I say skip it.

Book Links:
 photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg  photo 111AD205-AA04-4F9E-A0F4-C1264C4E9F30-1855-000001A1E8CEB6D7_zps9b730b94.jpg  photo KoboIcon_zps515cdc1a.jpg  photo B1426D4C-9EEC-4C0B-A1FB-90524B03C0CA-1855-000001A1E82B3B3E_zps17d98f4d.jpg

About the Author:
ELANA K. ARNOLD completed her M.A. in Creative Writing/Fiction at the University of California, Davis. She grew up in Southern California, where she was lucky enough to have her own horse--a gorgeous mare named Rainbow--and a family who let her read as many books as she wanted. She lives in Long Beach, California, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. She is represented by Rubin Pfeffer of the East/West Literary Agency. Sacred is her debut novel.

Author Links:
   

Giveaway details:
This is not exactly my giveaway. I am simply hosting it for Random House. I will choose the winner via Rafflecopter, then pass the winner's information to Random House, who will send the prize.
Contest will run until 12 AM June 7.

UPDATE: CONTEST IS OPEN TO US AND CANADA!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

21 comments:

  1. That sounds like a great book!

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    1. It really is! I wasn't sure what to expect when I got it, but it was an unexpected delight!

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  2. I'm currently reading Asunder by Jodi Meadows (on your recommendation!) The weather's been amazing today. A tad on the warm side for the kiddos, but so pretty! Punk just counted to three for the first time. So cute. "One, two, tree!" He had me read A isn't for Fox, Ten Little Caterpillars, and Have You Seen My Cat? this evening. I'm sure a few of our new library reads will be enjoyed tonight too! (:

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    1. I'm so glad you like it the Newsoul books! I know they aren't for everyone. If it's too warm in TN for the kiddies, there's no way you guys will ever be able to come out to TX. It's SO HOT here! I think it's great that you push reading on Punk. That kid is gonna be so super smart!

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    2. Well, more so for Ladybug than Punk. He'll run around and play and doesn't care. He'd strip down to his pullup and be happy haha. She's in a cuddlebug stage so cuddling, outside in warm weather, no heatstroke for mama and da bebe lol. I actually haven't pushed for him to read. Just sit around reading books he can see and on my kindle. He just wants to be like a big boy and that involves books in his world right now (:

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  3. Replies
    1. Glad you like! This book is incredible!

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  4. I live in Oregon and it's SUNNY today! I'm rejoicing! (:

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    1. Sounds like we traded because I'm in Texas and it's been cloudy today so I'm also rejoicing!

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  5. I can't wait to read this book! It sounds amazing. :)
    Right now I'm reading Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. I love it!

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    1. Oooh, I've got Scarlet checked out of the library and can't wait to read it!

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  6. This book sounds good :) I am reading the Soul Seeker Series right now (Fated, Echo, Mystic) by Alyson Noel. I like it about 20x better than the Immortal Series she wrote! It is great!

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    1. I read the first book in Immortals. Wasn't my cup of tea. Her stand-alones aren't bad, though

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    2. I think she thought this series out a lot more than she did the Immortals ... it is totally better written and more intriguing ... plus it isn't 6 books haha

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    3. Some people can pull off longer series, and some can't.

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  7. I have had my eye on this book for a while. The gypsy culture fascinates me and I know it is strictly forbidden for someone in their culture, especially a woman, to date an outsider. I love that cover too! I just love everything about it - the girl, the outfit, the font, the way you can't see her face - everything! Crossing my fingers I'll win!!!! :) Thanks for the giveaway!

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    1. 1. That cover is GORGEOUS. I really did judge Burning by the cover when I saw it on netgalley, and I'm so glad it lives up to it! 2. I had NO IDEA about the intricacies of the gypsy culture. Lala's narrative is fascinating to me simply because it is so vastly different from my own life. :) Thanks for entering & good luck!

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  8. You always have some of the best books! Oh my goodness!

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    1. I got really, really lucky with this one. Totally thanks to Random House.

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  9. Hooray, Hooray! I'm so glad you love BURNING. I do, too! I can't wait for it to hit the shelves tomorrow!

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    1. I hope you have a wonderful release day!!

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