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  • Mandy McHugh

*100* Burn Our Bodies Down, Rory Power

After the powerhouse that is Wilder Girls, I was thrilled to be approved for Burn Our Bodies Down and started reading ASAP. I mean, look at that cover. Haunting and simple and violent--I couldn't love it more.

Margot's relationship with her mother is tenuous and complicated. They rely on each other, but Jo never discusses her past. Wanting answers and a family, Margot sneaks to her mother's childhood hometown in search of her grandmother, Vera. She finds her as a fire ravages the farmland that has been in their family for generations, but Vera comes with a complex mystery that threatens to send Margot's entire existence into upheaval. To start, Burn Our Bodies Down is one of the best YA books I've read this year. I *FLEW* through this book. Power's writing is such a smooth experience, and I'd plowed through half of it before I could even blink. At seventeen, Margot is a solid narrator with competing emotions, insightful self-reflection, determination, and empathy. I loved her. Her voice was authentic and layered and beautiful in its raw honesty. Mother/daughter relationships can be tough to write. Defaulting to stereotypes or sugarcoating maternal instincts into one shared experience and universal truth has been a norm in literature for years. We talk about mother's love and automatically assume it's vast and all-encompassing. Oftentimes, however, mothers come with barbs and sharp edges. They can be selfish or martyring or materialistic, because, after all, they are people. Being a mother doesn't negate the person you were before motherhood, and seeing this painful, complex relationship breathed to life tugged at every heart string in my body. The real kicker with this book follows that same thought wave, exploring the distinction between biological/genetic tendencies and free will. Are we destined to become our mothers because it's in our genes or is there more to our identities? Am I programmed to become my mother? While not a boogeyman or black market hostile, this is a very real fear for many young girls, especially at Margot's age when you're trying to navigate through early adulthood yet feeling tethered to your childhood. Ms. Britney Spears didn't write I'm Not a Girl (Not Yet a Woman) without cause. Wrought with allegory, imagery, and symbolism, Power dissects nature vs nurture in its most literal form which results in a horrific, nightmarish narrative that left me speechless. Overall, Burn Our Bodie Down is a gripping, eerie exploration of motherhood and family bonds. Three million percent, you want to add this to your TBRs. Out in July, Burn Our Bodies Down is one everyone will for sure be raving about. Huge thanks to RHC/Delacorte and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.

 

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