BURN by Suzanne Phillips


Age Range: 12 & up
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Like a traffic accident you can see coming a mile off and then can’t look away from, Phillips’s cautionary tale horrifies and disturbs as it rolls out the story of a bullied ninth-grade boy who, after being pushed to the wall, finally explodes. Cameron Grady, slight and long-haired, lives comfortably under the radar until his high-school gym teacher accidentally misidentifies him as a girl. From that moment on, Cameron is viciously harassed and terrorized by members of the football team, led by the chillingly real meaner-than-mean Rich Patterson. It’s hard not to feel sympathy for this set-upon youngster who is so helplessly trapped in high-school hell, and as Cameron slowly unravels, the author does a good job of making the audience feel his anguish and humiliation. The issue of how culpable he is for his later actions is also deftly dramatized, but it is far more ambiguous and complex, and will give teen readers something to ponder. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-316-00165-6
Page count: 278pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2008