I was in grade 7 in 1977 and the summer between grade 7 & 8 was very exciting. Star Wars had come out and we took the Greyhound from New Hamburg into Kitchener to see it. Saturday Night Fever was released that year, but it was rated R,, so we had to content ourself with the record album. The PG version wasn’t released until a year later. It was also the summer of the Son of Sam murders in New York, which was news even in my tiny town in Canada.
All of this forms a backdrop to Meg Medina’s latest book, Burn Baby Burn.
Although it seems odd that my youth is historical fiction, this was an excellent read. It isn’t about any of the things I mentioned above, but they all play a part of Nora’s life, where she is trying to figure out her life and her family as she finishes high school and moves on to the next phase of her life.
Publisher’s Summary:Nora Lopez is seventeen during the infamous New York summer of 1977, when the city is besieged by arson, a massive blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam who shoots young women on the streets. Nora’s family life isn’t going so well either: her bullying brother, Hector, is growing more threatening by the day, her mother is helpless and falling behind on the rent, and her father calls only on holidays. All Nora wants is to turn eighteen and be on her own. And while there is a cute new guy who started working with her at the deli, is dating even worth the risk when the killer likes picking off couples who stay out too late? Award-winning author Meg Medina transports us to a time when New York seemed balanced on a knife-edge, with tempers and temperatures running high, to share the story of a young woman who discovers that the greatest dangers are often closer than we like to admit — and the hardest to accept.
This is a serious novel, but the whole time I was reading it, and even now, a few days later, I can;t help but sing this song: