Loving on Steve Brezenoff’s BROOKLYN, BURNING
Steve Brezenoff’s latest novel, Brooklyn, Burning, sets the bar high for punk-friendly, slacker-sweet, gender-indifferent YA. And it takes on the issues facing many LGBT teens in the wisest way possible: by refusing to make those issues all that the book is about. Here’s the summary yoinked from Brezenoff’s website:
When you’re sixteen and no one understands who you are, sometimes the only choice left is to run. If you’re lucky, you 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.
Brooklyn, Burning‘s strongest statement about gender and sexual identity comes through what goes unsaid. The biological sex of the two main characters is never explicitly identified, and the “you” and “I” and strategic phrasing that make this possible work without calling too much attention to themselves. And yet, of course, the reader notices what has been strategically elided. But by the end, we’re convinced (or at least I was) that a love story can be a love story without being the story of boy meets girl (or boy meets boy, or girl meets girl). It’s kind of like Georges Perec proving that a novel can be written without the letter “e” (L’Apparition). Only maybe less extreme. And a bit more to the point. But you know what I mean.
I, for one, stand in awe. Brooklyn, Burning belongs in library collections, bookstores, and your bookshelf. So get on that.