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)