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BROOKLYN BURNING by Steve Brezenoff Kirkus Star


by Steve Brezenoff

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7613-7526-5
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab

A lyrical, understated punk-kid love song to Brooklyn and to chosen family.

Early in the summer of 2006, Scout comes to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, looking for someone to make music with. Kid, who plays drums and was kicked out by an angry father a year earlier, ostensibly for drinking, greets the newcomer with both suspicion and reluctant interest. Meanwhile, police are investigating the Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse fire—based on a true event—and Kid is a suspect. As Kid moves through the streets and shops of Brooklyn, the narration names each place, creating both specificity and familiarity. Flashbacks to the previous summer, the fire and Kid's relationship with another troubled street kid slowly and deftly provide insight into Kid's circumstances. Homelessness, queerness and the rougher sides of living on the street are handled without a whiff of sensationalism, and the moments between Kid, the first-person narrator, and Scout, addressed as “you,” are described in language so natural and vibrant that readers may not even notice that neither character's gender is ever specified. While a couple of scenes with Kid's mother feel overly redemptive, readers will probably be happy for them anyway.

Overall, the tone is as raw, down-to-earth and transcendent as the music Scout and Kid ultimately make together. (Fiction. 14 & up)