Blog Tour & Review: Burning by Elana K. Arnold

Title: Burning Armstrongs #1)
Author: Elana K. Arnold
Published: June 11, 2013 by Delacorte Press
Reviewed by: Isalys
Reason for Reading: Copy provided by publisher through Book Nerd Tours for review purposes.

Ben: Having just graduated from high school, Ben is set to leave Gypsum, Nevada. It's good timing since the gypsum mine that is the lifeblood of the area is closing, shutting the whole town down with it. Ben is lucky: he's headed to San Diego, where he's got a track scholarship at the University of California. But his best friends, Pete and Hog Boy, don't have college to look forward to, so to make them happy, Ben goes with them to check out the hot chick parked on the side of Highway 447. 

Lala: She and her Gypsy family earn money by telling fortunes. Some customers choose Tarot cards; others have their palms read. The thousands of people attending the nearby Burning Man festival spend lots of cash--especially as Lala gives uncanny readings. But lately Lala's been questioning whether there might be more to life than her upcoming arranged marriage. And the day she reads Ben's cards is the day that everything changes for her. . . and for him.

Summer is coming to an end and it is almost time for Ben to head off to college in San Diego.  With a full ride, it's a great opportunity for him but he can't shake the heavy guilt he feels about leaving his family behind during a difficult time.  The factory responsible for his town's economy has shut down and now all the citizens, and everything he's ever known, is slowly withering away.  His dad is jobless, his brother gets picked on because of his sexuality and his friends are on a road to nowhere.  He carries with him the burden of responsibility, even though it's not for him to carry.

Lala is unlike anyone that Ben, or even myself as a reader, has ever known.  She is a gypsy.  Unlike Ben's uncertainty, she knows exactly where her life is going.  The customs of her people have very clear, defined roles for the men and women of her "tribe" and she will soon become a wife as per the arrangements made between her father and a neighboring tribe.  Until now, she's accepted her role.  It's all she's ever known; but something is changing.  She's no longer content and she finds herself questioning many of her people's customs and traditions.

Before Ben's big farewell, his two best friends decide to take him to the gypsy camp parked on the side of the road and have him get a fortune reading.  It is here that our main characters meet and their lives begin to change. Ben is captivated by Lala's exoticism.  She is beautiful, smart, perceptive and utterly magical [to him].  In turn, Lala is wholly attracted to Ben and clearly in a way that she's never been to her own fiancé. One chance meeting leads to another and Lala makes a decision that affects them both in ways that neither expected or are even entirely ready for.

In their brief, but passionate and powerful time together, Ben and Lala not only learn about each other but they learn about themselves.  Their encounter freed them both from the life they thought they were supposed to live and instead gave them lives that they wanted to live!  Elana K. Arnold does not give us the conventional, happily-ever-after type of ending.  Rather we are given a much more realistic ending.  Lala and Ben had two very different lives to lead and they are not yet ready to follow the same path.  As I read the final page, I realized that Elana K. Arnold gave US, the readers, the power to imagine where Ben and Lala journeys would take them.

Burning is a unique and beautifully written book, with dual points of view, about self-discovery and how one chance meeting can re-write the story of your own life!

Check out Book Nerds: Burning Tour for more information on scheduled stops for this tour.


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 Long Beach, California, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. She is represented by Rubin Pfeffer of the East/West Literary Agency. Sacred is her debut novel.


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