Author: Steve Brezenoff
Release date: September 1st 2011
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Hardcover, 210 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
When you're sixteen and no one understands who you are, sometimes the only choice left is to run. If you're lucky, you'll find a place that accepts you, no questions asked. And if you're really lucky, that place has a drum set, a place to practice, and a place to sleep. For Kid, the streets of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, are that place. Over the course of two scorching summers, Kid falls hopelessly in love and then loses nearly everything and everyone worth caring about. But as summer draws to a close, Kid finally finds someone who can last beyond the sunset.
If we only look at the surface, it’s pretty clear that Brooklyn, Burning is about gender identity and sexual orientation issues. But looking at the surface is not nearly enough. By concentrating too much on things like gender identity, we fail to see what’s underneath, and we miss everything that’s beautiful. Now, I know that sounds like a terrible cliché, but it’s a lesson that can’t be repeated enough.
This book, much like its main character, refuses to be categorized. It’s really about many things: loneliness, feeling of not belonging, honesty, big dreams, love and acceptance. It is a beautifully written, poignant and at times painfully honest story, a true eye-opener that will stay with you for years.
No more – no more love, no more songwriters, no more long and gorgeous fingers in my hair. Purity of voice and purity of heart doesn’t mean purity of soul, and certainly not purity of body. You’d be gone in weeks, I knew, and I wasn’t going to let you into my heart before then.Kid has gender identity and sexual orientation issues – or more precisely, other people have issues with Kid’s gender identity and sexual orientation. Kid is also very lost, lonely and unhappy. Kid’s father threw Kid out of the house because he refused to accept that Kid is different. So instead of living in a house like a normal teenager, Kid was forced to live in an abandoned warehouse, with a junkie musician Kid couldn’t help but fall in love with.
You may have noticed I’ve been avoiding to use personal pronouns - that’s because I don’t know which pronoun to use. Brezenoff never revealed Kid's gender, nor did it mather, which is a very important lesson in and of itself.
This story touched me on so many levels, but above all because I'm a parent. I have zero tolerance for bad parenting. If you aren’t ready to accept anything and everything your child might become, you shouldn’t be a parent at all. Once you are, though, quitting is not an option. I took the behavior of Kid's father very hard because I couldn't begin to imagine abandoning my kid like that.
I don’t remember what he sang about; I’m not sure I ever knew. It was his voice, gritty but gentle, like my father’s hands when I was too small to see past them, and the slow way his melody moved along its path, not in any hurry but enjoying every note for itself, rather than looking forward to the next note, and the next, until the song’s end. This song would have no end; it couldn’t possibly. This song was forever.There’s not much I can say about Brooklyn, Burning without spoiling it. It's been two years since I'd first read it and I haven't been able to forget it. It's safe to say it endured the test of time. Besides, this is a time of great change, we're watching history unfold every day. Laws change, intolerant people are at least becoming slightly ashamed of themselves, and I feel that books like Brooklyn, Burning are now more important than ever.