When I saw the title of Meg Medina's latest book, Burn Baby Burn, I just knew it had something to do with disco and the late 1970s and I was right. The year was 1977 in New York. "After a freezing winter, a boiling hot summer explodes with arson, a blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam, who is shooting young people on the streets seemingly at random" (Goodreads.) Nora is seventeen and just wants to have the best summer of her life before she and her friends split up and go off to college. But it ends up being the worst summer ever with Son of Sam on a rampage, her brother causing huge problems for her family and community, and a mother who cannot make ends meet.
Meg Medina did a great job going back and catching the feel of the seventies and the disco era in Burn Baby Burn. She described the fashions, the problems, and the feel of this by-gone era to my satisfaction. I could picture everything---the platform shoes, the polyester shirts that men wore open to reveal chest hairs, tube tops, and glossy lip gloss. Even the movies of 1977 were very memorable: Annie Hall, Stars Wars, Saturday Night Fever, and the second Exorcist. It was fun taking a step back to my younger days.
What I didn't know, or didn't really pay attention to, was what was happening with the Son of Sam and his reign of terror in the New York area at the same time. Though it played in the background of Nora's life, I learned about the mood in the city that summer before he was finally arrested in August of 1977 as Nora and her friends were not allowed to go anywhere after dark, even sitting in a car.
The best part of Burn Baby Burn was glimpse we got at Nora's Latino culture, and the multi-ethnic neighborhood where she lived in Queens. One character was involved in the push for the Equal Rights Amendment, another was concerned with housing issues with raising rent prices. All the characters seemed real.
I hope that my readers will pick up Burn Baby Burn. They will learn what life was like in the not-so-distant past and be immersed in a very 1970s story.
And now for your listening (and viewing) enjoyment, "Burn Baby Burn--- Disco Inferno" by The Trammps, I love the bass line. It was a featured song in the wildly popular movie, Saturday Night Fever starring John Travolta, which hit the big screen in 1977!
2017 Printz Award Contenders
1 / 35 books. 3% done!