BURNING UP by Caroline B. Cooney

BURNING UP

Age Range: 12 - 14
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KIRKUS REVIEW

From Cooney (The Voice on the Radio, 1996, etc.), a hard look at the tacit, unacknowledged racism that lurks beneath the surface of an affluent, supposedly enlightened community. Macey loves her Connecticut town. Her grandparents, Papa and Nana, provide a home for her during the frequent absences of her upwardly mobile parents; school and friends are great; and handsome Austin is taking a flattering interest in her. The only thing that worries her is the reaction she gets from everyone she asks about a mysterious fire in 1959 that destroyed a local barn, and a renovated apartment within it, where a black teacher lived. When Macey is assigned community service painting an inner- city church, she is paired with a parishioner, Venita, and they bond, immediately. That day, however, an arsonist sets fire to the church, and they and others are almost killed. Macey is shocked at the viciousness of the act, and more curious about the long-ago fire near her home. When Venita is killed trying to protect a little girl from a gang, Macey grieves and begins to question seriously the chasm of hate between blacks and whites. The truth about the 1959 fire, which was deliberately set and witnessed by those closest to her, nearly destroys her. This thought-provoking story has a powerful message, effortlessly woven into the ordinary trappings of a teenager’s life. Cooney allows for no cozy ending; as Macey faces what racism has done to her community, readers will question what it has done to theirs. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-385-32318-2
Page count: 230pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1998




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