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Burning Hardcover – June 11, 2013

4 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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We Are the Ants
We Are the Ants
A brand-new novel about a teenage boy who must decide whether or not the world is worth saving. Hardcover | Kindle book
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Ben is college-bound, which is unusual in his town, which is literally shutting down, now that the company that owns it is closing the gypsum mine. Lala is a Roma girl, whose family has come to the desert (near Ben’s home, outside the Burning Man festival) to earn money fortune-telling. When Lala tells Ben’s fortune, something breaks open for both of them. Telling the story in alternating voices, they must decide if the paths they are on—college and arranged marriage—are what they want (or must do). Though Ben seems more real than Lala, whose stiltedly accented voice is a distraction, readers will definitely be caught up in their romance. The relationship is decided at the Burning Man festival, and readers will be unsure which way it will go till the very end. Grades 9-12. --Ilene Cooper


Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2013:
"Lyrical and inspirational."

School Library Journal Teen, May 1, 2013:
"No doubt, a great, unexpected ending."

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; First Edition edition (June 11, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385743343
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385743341
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,926,404 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

ELANA K. ARNOLD completed her M.A. in Creative Writing/Fiction at the University of California, Davis. She grew up in Southern California, where she was lucky enough to have her own horse--a gorgeous mare named Rainbow--and a family who let her read as many books as she wanted. She lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. She is represented by Rubin Pfeffer of Rubin Pfeffer Content.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
this story is told by the two protagonists. One is a recent high school graduate named Ben and the other is a Gypsy girl named Lala. Even though their worlds and views are as different than night and day, they are about at similar cross roads in life.

Ben has been given a a scholarship to attend UCSD. Even though this is dream come true instead of being excited for the new adventure that he will soon be facing, he is torn in two. Yes he will be attending a great university, but everyone around him who he loves. is facing different circumstances. They live in a city with a population of less than 500. The sole occupation for many of these families was a Mine that recently closed and layed off all of there employees. With the town now bankrupt everyone must move, including this family and his best friends.

Lala on the other hand, is the perfect Gypsy daughter. She lives and breathes by her cultures traditions and values. She is a good daughter, a good sister, and will soon be a good wife to a boy her father picked for her in an arranged marriage to her sister's husband's brother. Things however as not as they seem internally for Lala. She struggles with some of the her family's customs and with her 18th birthday around the corner and her wedding to Romeo she finds herself questioning some of her family's customs.

Both of their worlds will collide when Ben's friends take him to get his fortune told at Lala's families camp. The second they both lock eyes on each other there are sparks. Will Ben give up his scholarship to be with Lala? Will Lala risk being disowned from her family for a chance to be with Ben? You have to read the book to find out!

Guys! I adored this book! The characters were so fresh and vivid and just flew from the page.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I received this book on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Netgalley and Random House Childrens!

Okay so it's been 2 days and I have collected my thoughts as much as I possibly can about this book. Still, this review will probably be a bit disjointed and come across as rambling because for whatever reason when I really love a book, I have a hard time reviewing it. But I will try.

First off, I love the desert setting and she captured the essence of a crumbling small town perfectly. Arnold has a way of writing that draws you in and makes you feel like you are there, like you can actually feel the suffocating heat, and I felt as if I was actually sitting there with Ben, Hog Boy, and Pete in the opening scene. That feeling of suffocation from the heat grows even stronger as we learn more about the town's future - that it is about to be closed down for the same reason it was started - Gypsum. When the housing market went crazy, a company created a gypsum mine, which was then used to create drywall. This same company owned the entire town, every home in it, and when it closed down the mine, it made plans to close the entire town and erect a fence around it. It is a very small but close knit town, and I found myself emotionally invested in how everyone living there was going to be able to move on after they had their whole lives pulled out from under them.

Lala, on the other hand, is not from the town of Gypsum. Rather, she is a Romani, a gypsy, who is traveling with her family on the way to buy cars for her father's used car dealership. Lala's brother-in-law, Marko, had the idea that they should leave early and set up camp on the side of the road close to the Burning Man festival to read fortunes for the festival-goers so they could earn extra cash.
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Format: Hardcover
You'd think a story where two characters are instantly smitten with each other would be contrived by this point - a trope I often find instantly dismissible, even ridiculous. I don't believe love-at-first-sight ever really happens, making me roll my eyes when it comes up in fiction. But when Ben and Lala meet for the first time and a passion ignites between them right away, I was struck by not only how convincingly the attraction between them is portrayed, but how I was able to completely believe that this could happen. What starts as a spark builds between these two, and the way its done is crafted so well that I never had any doubts that it could, and does.

It certainly helps that the strongest and most impressive part of BURNING for me is the voices of these two teens. Told from an alternating first-person perspective between Ben and Lala, the author does an amazing job making each voice different and unique from the other, while sharing many of the same experiences. Ben, with his small-town upbringing and attachment to childhood friends Pete and Hog Boy, has the kind of vernacular that makes sense for a young man his age, evidenced by the casual swearing and down-to-earth observations he makes; Lala has a much more refined voice, her Gypsy background notable in the way she views the world, but also in her starting to question her role in the tradition and what she wants in life. The fact that the story moved back and forth between these two kept the narrative fresh and compelling, and I enjoyed how each viewed the life of the other as their stories became increasingly entwined, and all while the passion that drives the story stays strong.

While the novel does have a bit of a slow start, it picks up much faster than Mrs.
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