I read this book in one evening, while sitting in my rocking chair, wrapped in a fleecy blanket, chewing on my fingernails (especially during the last seven chapters or so). Actually, I believe this is the ONLY book I've read during 2014 (out of 83 books so far), that I have stayed up past my bedtime to finish reading it. It was that good.
I do have a confession I want to throw out, actually it is more of a brag... I believe, I was actually in the same room as this writer, when he was pounding the keyboard during the Muskoka Novel Marathon writing this very novel. Kevin Craig is a machine. He hardly ever sleeps. I have been lucky enough to watch him create four novels over the past four summers and I can't wait to read each and every one of them. The amazing part of this, he was writing these novels while raising money for Literacy. What a wonderful cause to support!
Kevin has a talent with developing characters you fall in love with like Francis, the main character who is abused and bullied almost all his life. I dropped a tear or two reading about specific moments he spent with his father. I just wanted to reach inside the book and hug the poor boy. Take him home with me and try and protect him. Kevin created Francis's best friend Trig, who continuously stood up for Francis and was his full-time protection against the meanest kid in high school, Brandon Hayley, who I couldn't help but despise. Kevin, also created Rachel, a girl who was able to look past the ugliness and find only things to smile about... and kiss gently. My emotions were all over the map on this book: I went from happiness, to anger, to frustrated, to horror with every page I turned. I could easily picture this novel as a movie, as Francis was quite often doing, and I feel that I actually knew a few of these kids when they attended my high school back in the day.
This book was a fantastic portrayal of the every day teenage life, with sticks and stones thrown in to make us gasp, including some trial and errors of coping with his problems, using methods such as alcohol, that every child experiences at one time or another. Teens are often struggling to find the right path on how to deal with small issues, let alone larger ones that happen near the end of the book. Sometimes, it's hard facing the truth of what life is like behind the closed door...sometimes, you never know. I loved the references of the Shakespeare quotes and the Paul Simon mentions. I can't give this away though, no spoilers from me, so you'll just have to wait and read it yourself. It's not what you think, I promise. PLUS, I loved all the author's acknowledgements at the end of the book... I possibly shed a tear or two.
Burn Baby, Burn Baby is a must read for all kids over the age of 12... and any parent who might have a child living in their house who may be abusive to others, or more importantly, may be the one getting tortured and is now scared to leave the house for worry, he may never come home alive.
You should add this novel to your Christmas Wish List this year. ~ 5 out of 5 Stars.
Description from back of the Book:
Seventeen-year-old Francis Fripp’s confidence is practically non-existent since his abusive father drenched him in accelerant and threw a match at him eight years ago. Now badly scarred, Francis relies on his best friend Trig to protect him from the constant bullying doled out at the hands of his nemesis, Brandon Hayley—the unrelenting boy who gave him the dreaded nickname of Burn Baby.
The new girl at school, Rachel Higgins, is the first to see past Francis’s pariah-inducing scars. If Brandon’s bullying doesn’t destroy him, Francis might experience life as a normal teenager for the first time in his life. He just has to avoid Brandon and convince himself he’s worthy of Rachel’s attentions. Sounds easy enough, but Francis himself has a hard time seeing past his scars. And Brandon is getting violently frustrated, as his attempts to bully Francis are constantly thwarted. Francis is in turmoil as he simultaneously rushes toward his first kiss and a possible violent end.
About The Author:
Kevin Craig is the author of three previous novels; Summer on Fire, Sebastian’s Poet, and The Reasons. He is a 4-time winner of the Muskoka Novel Marathon’s Best Novel Award. Kevin is also a playwright and has had eight 10-minute plays produced. His poetry, short stories, memoir and articles have been published internationally. Kevin was a founding member of the Ontario Writers’ Conference and a long-time member of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR). He is represented by literary agent Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group.
Find Kevin Craig Online:
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Find the novel, Burn Baby Burn Baby on Goodreads