Brooklyn, Burning

  • Interest Level: Grade 9 - Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 7

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 is a fearless and unconventional love story. Brezenoff never identifies the gender of his two main characters, and readers will draw their own conclusions about Kid and Scout. Whatever they decide, Brooklyn, Burning is not a book any teen reader will soon forget.
Brooklyn, Burning is the story of two summers in Brooklyn, two summers of fires, music, loss, and ultimately, love.

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Interest Level Grade 9 - Grade 12
Reading Level Grade 7
Genre Young Adult
Category Diverse Books: LGBTQIA+, Diverse Books: Social Class, Diverse Books: Social Justice, Diversity
Copyright 2011
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Lab ®
Language English
Number of Pages 208
Publication Date 2014-08-01
Reading Counts! Level 5.6
Text Type Fiction
BISACS YAF011000, YAF058110, YAF058210
Dewey [Fic]
Dimensions 5.25 x 7.5
Lexile 760
ATOS Reading Level 4.8
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 145207
Accelerated Reader® Points 7.0
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Awards, Reviewed, and Starred Reviews

Author: Steve Brezenoff

Steve Brezenoff has written several chapter books for young readers, and The Absolute Value of -1 is his first novel for teens. Though Steve grew up in a suburb on Long Island, he now lives with his wife, their kids, and their terrier, in St. Paul, Minnesota.


  • SSLI Book Award Honor Book, Commended, 2013
  • ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Gold Award, Winner, 2012
  • YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, Winner, 2012
  • Los Angeles Public Library Best of 2011: Young Adult Books, Winner, 2011
  • ALA Rainbow List Top Ten, Winner, 2011
  • Kirkus Best Teen Books of the Year, Winner, 2011


The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“This will appeal to readers who enjoyed David Levithan’s Love Is the Higher Law.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

The Horn Book Magazine

“A moving, personal story of friendship, loss, and love, Brezenoff’s novel is also a tender tribute to all LGBTQ youth.” —The Horn Book Magazine


“Parts of Brooklyn are evocatively portrayed with descriptions that show Brezenoff intimately knows, or remembers, this part of New York and loves it.” —VOYA


“The question raised by all this is not whether their love will last but, rather, do their genders and sexual identities matter.” —Booklist

Kirkus Reviews

“A lyrical, understated punk-kid love song to Brooklyn and to chosen family…. The tone is as raw, down-to-earth and transcendent as the music Scout and Kid ultimately make together.” —Kirkus Reviews


Brooklyn, Burning, an edgy tale of star-crossed street kids unified by music and a desire to catch a break, speaks clearly to the urgency of adolescence.” —Mpls.St.Paul

Publishers Weekly

“For readers with little use for labels, it’s an intimate yet wonderfully open rock ‘n’ roll love story.” —Publishers Weekly

John Barnes

“Steve Brezenoff’s Brooklyn, Burning is what I want out of a novel: it’s funny and sad (but not always when you expect it to be), plotted tight as a plumb line without ever letting you see that till the end, pops you with the surprises of human kindness and decency even more than it startles you with plunges into the depths. As good an example as you will find that the novel is the art that can go broad and deep at the same time, it tackles the kind of difficult question that only the novel can do: what will we do with all the unwanted talent and rejected love in the world, and how will the kids (and the Kids) cope when they find out they’re wanted after all? What happens when kids are loaded up with far more than anyone should have to bear, and they bear it, and go on? Like any good novel, it’s one particular, memorable, answer in a form so vivid it will stay with you forever. All that, and he did it for a bunch of kids, who will now probably sneak off and savor it all by themselves, as if it were for their generation and not for all time. Don’t let the kids hide this in the cellar; drag it upstairs where everyone can enjoy it.” —John Barnes , Printz Honoree

Bennett Madison

“Steve Brezenoff’s gorgeous, sad and hopeful Brooklyn, Burning will make you want to walk out the door and fall in love right now. It will also remind you that it’s totally possible. It’s a love letter to Brooklyn, a love letter to music booming from the basement, and most of all, a love letter to every kind of love. (But especially the punk rock kind.) Guess how I felt about it: <3.” —Bennett Madison

Ellen Wittlinger

“A gritty but nuanced story of two years in the life of a street kid whose world veers from dream to nightmare and back again. Like Brooklyn in the summer, Brezenoff’s book is hot and intense.” —Ellen Wittlinger