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Burn Baby Burn is a 2016 young adult novel written by Cuban-American author Meg Medina. It was first published on March 8, 2016 through Candlewick Press and follows a young woman growing up during the summer of 1977, when the Son of Sam began targeting young women.

Burn Baby Burn
Burn Baby Burn cover.jpg
AuthorMeg Medina
Audio read byMarisol Ramirez
CountryUnited States
GenreYoung adult fiction
PublisherCandlewick Press
Media typePrint, ebook, audiobook
Pages320 pages
Preceded byMango, Abuela and Me 



It's the summer of 1977 and all Nora López wants to do is get old enough to move out and live on her own. Her home life is difficult, as her father left home when she was little and will only occasionally send them money to cover the family's rent - something made more vital when Nora's mother begins to gain fewer hours at work. Nora's younger brother Hector is violent and abusive, as he will frequently beat both Nora and their mother whenever he gets angry. Her mother is dismissive of Hector's abuse as she feels that it is just a phase and always tries to get Nora to calm Hector, to little effect. Nora is loath to let her friends know exactly how bad things have gotten at home, so Nora decides to hide her bruises and poverty. Things seem to get better when a cute college boy named Pablo begins working with her at the deli and they begin dating.

When fires and shootings start becoming commonplace, Nora and her friends begin to change their schedules and lives in order to avoid becoming a victim of the Son of Sam.


While writing the novel Medina drew upon her personal experiences growing up in New York City during 1977, which she states was " just an epic year in New York City’s collective history. It felt like everything was at the brink of disaster, and yet there was this energy, this scary yet thrilling chaotic energy."[1] This included the public's fear that anyone could be a victim of the Son of Sam, as this was prior to him being caught and identified as David Berkowitz and there was fear that he could be "anywhere and anybody".[2] Medina chose to also feature the character of Nora experiencing second-wave feminism, commenting that she felt that it was important for modern readers to see feminism as something they could impact and appreciate.[1] It took Medina three years to complete the book, half of which was spent writing and the other was spent editing and fine-tuning.[3] As she was only thirteen when Berkowitz was captured and arrested in 1977, Medina conducted extensive research and interviewed people who were teens or adults during that point in time.[3]


Critical reception for Burn Baby Burn has been positive.[4] The School Library Journal wrote a favorable review, stating "A devastatingly intense story, this work is a must-have for all collections, especially where Ruta Sepetys’s books are popular."[5] Publishers Weekly and Booklist also praised the book, with Booklist calling it a "stellar piece of historical fiction".[6][7]


  1. ^ a b Schulman, Martha. "Q & A with Meg Medina". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2016-03-21.
  2. ^ Castellitto, Linda M. "Meg Medina - Interview". BookPage. Retrieved 2016-03-21.
  3. ^ a b "Sizzling Seventies: Meg Medina on "Burn Baby Burn"". School Library Journal. Retrieved 2016-03-20.
  4. ^ "BURN BABY BURN, a young adult novel by Meg Medina reviewed by Rachael Tague • Cleaver Magazine". Cleaver Magazine. Retrieved 2016-03-20.
  5. ^ "Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina (SLJ Review)". School Library Journal. Retrieved 2016-03-20.
  6. ^ "Children's Book Review: Burn, Baby, Burn by Meg Medina". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2016-03-20.
  7. ^ Hunter, Sarah. "Burn Baby Burn (review)". Booklist. Retrieved March 20, 2016.

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