Monday, March 9, 2015

Burn Baby, Burn Baby by Kevin Craig.

Francis Fripp, (France to his best friend Trig), endured years of abuse from his dad, culminating in a horrific burning incident when he was in elementary school. Now he is 17, and his dad cannot come anywhere near him, but France continues to suffer from the relentless tormenting, bullying and name-calling of some of his peers because of the physical scars his dad left him with. Readers will quickly realize that France also has massive emotional scars which seem to cause him even greater harm and put the good parts of his life at risk; he doesn’t think he is worthy of romantic attention from the new girl in school, Rachel Higgins, and that the long friendship and unconditional support of Trig are undeserved.

This is a story of a young man trying to find where he fits in a cruel, but unfortunately all too realistic world, where the school jock/chief bully keeps getting away with his sadistic behavior towards Francis, until one of his own henchman finally sees the truth and speaks up for Francis, in a violently shocking and unexpected conclusion. Readers will be drawn into the relationship between France and Trig, a true friendship between two young men who have grown up together, with a bond that apparently cannot be broken, even when France pushes Trig away for caring too much. The typical older, male teen interests of girls and alcohol are included, but in a believable way; readers will understand why Francis thinks he needs to drink before he can talk to Rachel, and applaud her for telling him not to. The secondary characters are equally well-drawn, especially Trig’s dad, who is a gem of a male role-model to fatherless Francis.

At times this story was so vividly written it was impossible to keep reading; brace yourself for the horrific first-person descriptions of the abuse suffered by Francis as a child. This is a truly unforgettable novel for older teens, with characters that will stay with the reader long after the all-too brief 150 pages have been devoured.
(Burn Baby, Burn Baby by Kevin Craig.Published December 2014 by Curiosity Quills Press. Reviewed by Sian Marshall)

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