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Burning

By: Elana K. Arnold

BOOK TALK

High school track star Ben is leaving behind everything he knows in a week. His small town of Gypsum, Nevada which is shutting down now that the factory closed. His two best friends, Hog Boy and Pete, who aren’t college bound. And his on again, off again girlfriend, Cheyenne. But a full ride to the University of California is his ticket out of this desert nowhere town.

Gypsy fortune teller LaLa never leaves behind what she knows. She and her family always travel together and this time it’s to Gypsum to capitalize on the clients at the Burning Man festival. She accepts her impending marriage to Romeo. She subverts her desires to help her family with domestic chores. And she watches over her younger siblings. But the strict constraints of the Gypsy life are starting to close in.

When Ben and his friends come to have their fortunes’ told, LaLa feels an instant connection to the handsome track star, as if their fates are intertwined. In alternating chapters, we learn how these two teens from opposite cultures come together while the people around them collide.

Prepared by Julie Fales, Shawnee Mission South High School Journalism Adviser, Overland Park, KS