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.
The author was kind enough to share a digital copy of the book in exchange for an honest review”
This is my second novel from Kevin Craig and I knew that if it was anything like Half Dead and Fully Broken, it would one heart wrenching ride for me and that’s one of the reasons why I took a while to read this one. And therefore I apologise for the delay! (I am a coward when it comes to books breaking my heart!).
Burn Baby Burn Baby, tells the story of Francis, a high school kid with burns on the right side of the body that made the high school jock Brandon Hayley, nickname him “Burn Baby” (Originality at its best!). Francis has his best friend, Trig by his side but no one else.
Told in Francis’s POV, I got to understand him and I adored him! He was one of the most real characters I have read about in a long while. His emotions, his sarcastic attitude and his bitterness, all made up a character that I felt for with everything in me. His belief that he wasn’t good for was not only purported by himself but all the humans (and I use that word very loosely!) around him.
His best friend, Trig was someone I honestly did not like, not at first, and I am ashamed to admit that at first I actually thought he would have been the one who would betray him, but trust me, when you actually read the book, you’ll realise why I was hesitant to trust him. I got to know only Francis’s side of the story, and his bitterness has a way of making it into your heart. And yet, he was a better person than me.
This book made me realise what a pathetic species humans are. How absolutely cruel and vile we can be to things that are different, to people who are different. How has it ever mattered that people are different? Especially for something that wasn’t even their own fault? How is that we never take time to understand the story behind why a person is the way s/he is? Why is that being different from others mean that you are open to ridicule and a soft target to bullying and god forbid, abuse?
Why is normal considered normal? Why can’t different be normal for us? Why that being bullied is never the bully’s fault but the victim’s fault? Why can’t we ever speak out against bullying? Why is that when someone does speak out against their abuser, it’s the victims who get to feel like they are the one who did something wrong?
I apologise that this review became a rant but bullying and abuse is something that is close to my heart and I wish, I had well, understood the kind of pain the victims go through before I lost someone close to me.
Coming back to the book, Burn Baby Burn Baby honestly one of the better books I have read in a while. Mr Craig has done a wonderful job of verbalizing what a victim of bullying goes through. Though yes, there were a few things that I still need a closure to, but when I read that this novel was written in 72 hour writing whirlwind in Muskoka Novel Marathon in the acknowledgement, that’s when I realise that the kind of emotional whirlpool he must have submitted himself for. And for that, he has my utmost respect.
4.5 / 5 Stars
(Though it goes towards the higher end of the spectrum!)
This book is a must read for everyone. Not just because it is beautifully written, but because everyone needs to understand the kind of emotional pain a bullying victim goes through.