Burning by Elana K. Arnold
Let’s start by saying how much I love the cover. I love the composition of the girl, the font and the background – I just love the whole cover. There is not one thing that I would change. This cover drew me in and when they say not to judge a book by its cover, I totally do. Yeah, I know I shouldn’t.
But anyway back to the story.
Burning is a story of forbidden love. A gypsy girl and a small town guy. She’s engaged to be married and he’s about to move out of town. But these minor details are apparently not enough to keep them apart.
Lala White is stuck in the traditional ways of the Romani Gypsies, working in the family fortune telling business with her family expecting her be married off as soon as she turns 18, to a man she has no feelings for.
Ben Stanley grew up in the small desert town of Gypsum, Nevada. The town that he grew up in is literally shutting down, and the town he once knew will be no more.
The Burning-Man festival is a year-long event held just outside of Gypsum and Lala’s family have set up camp halfway between the festival and town to read the fortunes of festival-goers and it’s because of this that Ben and Lala meet. Ben has his fortune read by Lala and it’s in this moment that he instantly falls in love.
Their chemistry is hard to hide and the pull towards each other is so strong that Lala dismisses her family, tradition and all she has ever known to pursue and be with Ben. Due to Lala’s dismissal of her family, her family disowns her and this is where the story starts ot get a bit interesting allowing Burning to become quite a refreshing novel to read. It wasn’t your typical love story and it wasn’t too long or overwritten, what made it interesting was the surprise turn it took from love story to a story of Lala’s journey of self discovery, in which she follows on with her break in tradition, allowing Lala to find herself, to find her freedom.
Although I did enjoy the story towards the end, I was not completely drawn in and despite this being a short book, it took me longer than it would other books to read. The timeline of the book is only a couple of days and within this time frame we see, the beauty of what I like to call insta-love, develop between the main characters. This idea that two people who meet and fall in love, within a matter of days is quite questionable and in ways, unrealistic. Sure there is love at first sight but even that takes a longer time frame to allow the characters to get to know you then to fall in love, this doesn’t happen in a matter of seconds it takes time. The characters were described in great detail as were the supporting characters. It is apparent that Elana researched aspects of Gypsy culture, as reading it taught me new facts allowing the novel to be peppered with an authentic flair with elements of Gypsy culture described in great lengths, throughout the novel.
Elana K. Arnold is quite a talented writer, having written Burning in alternating POV’s allows us (the reader) to truly know what each character is thinking, both characters have rather distinct voices and personalities which peppers the story with a bit of spark.
Overall, Burning was quite unique in comparison to other novels. There is not a huge focus on romance and love – which is different to many other books I have read. But rather an internal conflict with Lala and maybe Ben as well. The story didn’t completely draw me in and at some parts confused me (when referring to parts of the gypsy culture that has not been thoroughly explained previously). If I had to give this a star rating I’d give it somewhere around the 2.5/3 mark. It was good but lacking in some aspects.