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Burning City Hardcover – May 24, 2005

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (May 24, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375832033
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375832031
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,986,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Heller Highland, 16, works at "Soft Tidings," an unlikely Manhattan company that delivers "news with a personal touch." Uncommon empathy makes him the firm's choice to deliver the worst news—a capsized boat off the Albanian coast had your wife and children aboard, a son has died in a Chinese re-education camp, a sweetheart in Istanbul has married another. Heller is a sad sack himself, pining for Silvia, a waitress whose eyes "made (him) want to crawl inside her soul." He's an outcast at work—the lone cyclist on a rollerblading staff. His two-wheeled dreams extend to entering the Tour de France, hoping to become its youngest champion ever. To that end, he employs many don't-try-this-at-home moves that will thrill teen readers—hitching himself to a moving car, tilting sideways under a truck parked in his path, hurtling over a construction site. The plot paints New York City as a very small town where the same few characters turn up everywhere and just when Heller needs them, but the father-son Dorfmans (both playwrights) do evoke the city's ethnic richness. Heller's kindness to strangers would be more credible if he didn't treat his grandparents, with whom he lives while his parents are on an unspecified do-gooder mission, with such disdain, and his voice often sounds too wise. Still, his derring-do on a bike will entice some readers, and the portrait of New York just before September 11 will draw others. Ages 12-up. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up–Heller is a philosophical 16-year-old bike messenger, and it's a good thing, because he is always tapped to deliver bad news. His company, Soft Tidings, believes in a personal touch, and their messengers communicate verbally. Though Heller is their youngest employee, he's best at providing comfort and peace along with painful tidings. He is less successful in his personal life; an unrequited crush on Silvia leads him to seek advice from a rich cast of characters. Salim Adasi, one of the teen's customers, provides some guidance and insight, though the man's status as an illegal immigrant makes him a target of Bruno the Bruiser, an over-the-top New York City cop. When Heller receives a sad message of his own, his philosophy and attitude are put to the test. The authors' descriptions of summer in Manhattan are flawless; the city seethes as Heller surges through its streets like an electron, connecting people and lives in complicated ways. His bicycle athletics make for flashy, exciting reading. With just a few lines of description or a quick dialogue, the authors provide the secondary characters with background and texture. Heller's own situation at home with his grandparents, by contrast, is a bit underdeveloped. His shyness with Silvia, along with the messages he delivers, contributes a hint of plot to this dreamy, episodic novel. It's the characters, their conversations, and histories that will draw in older, thoughtful teens.–Sarah Couri, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sydnie on August 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
I read this book a while ago, checked it out from the library and read it in a couple days. I loved it.

The description and even the other reviewer mention the flaws of the setting and how the plot seems unrealistic but in my mind these aren't flaws at all. When I read this book it had a bit of a nonsensical feel to me. Like it wasn't supposed to be completely realistic, it was supposed to be about the people rather than the plot. And the people are great. Heller is one of the best written characters I have read and for a young adult novel I think the characters are much more important than anything else because teens are looking for people to relate to.

As was said in one of the novel descriptions I think this book and it's characters are best for "thoughtful" teens. The story itself is quite interesting and does grab your attention, but the characters and their inner relationships and emotions are what makes the story, so if you're only interested in a story about a young bicyclist that's not what you're going to get. But if you want to read a story filled with characters who are complex and interesting and still so understandable, this is definitely a book you will love.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By terryannlibrarian on December 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
i was given an advanced copy of this book and i didn't want to read it. i hate 'sports' books. i never even picked this up until after it was already in the library and cataloged and on the shelf. man was i an idiot:)

this book is great! wait, it's better than great:) the characters are amazing (and really, they make this book). every distinct, vivid, realistic, snarky, wonderful person in this story rocked.

heller meets people over and over in manhatten rather conviniently, and the story line is a little on the, shall we say, unrealistic side. however, these flaws are totally easy to overlook when the dialog happens. (besides, when was the last time i saw a movie with a realistic story line???)

absolutely unique.
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