Burning Up

Burning Up

by Caroline B. Cooney

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This bestselling author explores the destructive nature of hatred, the crime of indifference, and the power of accepting love and responsibility.

Fifteen-year-old Macey Clare has always loved her quiet, beautiful Connecticut hometown. It's the place where her grandparents live, the place where her mother grew up. Macey is looking forward to the summer to come. She's hoping for fun and romance with her neighbor's perfect grandson Austin. But when Macey wants to research the facts behind who set fire to a barn across the street from her grandparent's home, she is shocked no one wants to answer questions about the place that burned down 38 years ago. And when a tragedy strikes a new friend who lives in the inner city, something clicks in Macey. She must discover her own true colors and face whatever it is she is going to find. Can she stand alone and take responsibility for the present while uncovering the past?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780756904753
Publisher: Perfection Learning Prebound
Publication date: 09/01/1999
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Caroline B. Cooney is the author of the Janie novels, as well as many other books for young adults.

Read an Excerpt

Macey dashed out of the high school, filled with the energy of Friday afternoon. She always had to run toward the weekend. The first thing she did on Friday was put distance between herself and the school. Macey was good at school, had friends, liked her teachers—and yet the end of every school week was such a relief.

Around her, sports teams were piling into vans and buses: tennis, baseball, golf and swim teams. Kids with cars shot out of the student parking lot, windows down, so everybody could shout to everybody else.

"Hey, Mace!" came two voices. "Want a ride?" Macey's best friends, Lindsay and Grace, leaned out the window of a Volvo. Grace's mother had come to pick them up.

"I'm walking, thanks!" yelled Macey.

"Oh, right, it's Friday," said Lindsay, rolling her eyes. "She's got her shortcuts to take."

"Oh, brother," said Grace, laughing out the car window. "Being a juvenile again?"

Grace's mother blew a kiss to Macey, and they drove on. Macey waved no to the driver of her own school bus. It was a three-mile hike to her grandparents', but Macey took shortcuts. Her route was closer to a mile and a half, and if she ran, she could make it in twenty minutes. What the run really did was cut her off from school, making the weekend clean and separate and safe. Macey cut through the golf course, cut through the woods and behind the old supermarket, through backyards and finally through the swamp.

The swamp wasn't a hundred feet across, and it wasn't a block long, but it had the strength of a canyon. Nobody but Macey ever crossed it.

A few years ago, she'd dragged boards into the swamp to give herself a path over the wettest parts. She hopped on the edge of the first board to be sure it wouldn't split when she put her weight on it.

From a hundred yards away drifted the rich scent of ocean: mudflats and fish and salt water. It was a warm-weather smell. Last week had been March, when school was a thing that would last forever—but today it was the first week in April, and Macey could shade her eyes and catch a glimpse of summer.

Beyond the swamp was the old stone foundation of a barn. Come summer, wild roses and tiger lilies would make it a sunken garden. Macey was not basically a sitting-down person, but she loved to sit here. It was peaceful. Even in early April, the sun warmed the stones.

Back when there were horses, all these old shorefront houses had had stables. This one, turned into a garage and apartment, had burned when Macey's mother was a girl. Supposedly a man had been in it at the time. When Macey was very little, she'd been afraid of the foundation, because what if the body was still there, waiting for her to find the bones?

But now, at fifteen and a half, she found the idea of discovering bones appealing, like archaeology or journalism.

Ten seconds was plenty of time to sit and consider the olden days. Macey jumped up and cut across the backyards of Shell Beach to her grandparents' house.

Her parents were staying in New York City for dinner. This was good. Mom and Dad were so exhausted at the end of a week that they were useless; on Fridays they just plopped down and faded away, while the television droned and the pizza got cold.

Macey came in Nana and Papa's back door. Her grandparents' back porch was a large glassed-in room, sagging with piles of stuff. There were broken china cups filled with beach glass. There were collections of knotty driftwood and yellow seashells. There were old bathing suits, hung up to dry when Macey was six, or twelve, and never worn again, because Mom bought new ones that weekend. There were magazines that somebody meant to clip something from and lawn chairs somebody meant to repair. There were old golf clubs and new fishing rods and an outboard motor.

Hot cinnamon smells drifted out from the kitchen. Nana and Papa were baking. Food was the centerpiece of their lives. They watched all the TV cooking shows and quoted the great chefs as if they were family friends. They greeted Macey with hugs and kisses and went straight to the crucial topic: what to have for dinner.

"Three-cheese pasta?" suggested Papa. Papa had very high blood pressure and cholesterol, but he didn't care; he ate whatever he felt like. He usually felt like eating a lot.

"No, dear, I found luscious asparagus in the market this morning," said Nana. "We'll have asparagus omelets." Nana ate more than Papa, and together they made a very roly-poly couple. They were even fatter in their red-and-white-striped French chef aprons.

"Asparagus. Yuck," said Macey. "It's tall, thin slime."

Two sets of blue eyes turned on her. Two identical frowns beneath snowy white hair. "You walk the dogs," ordered Nana. "And we'll decide the menu," said Papa.

Zipper was an old collie, tired and lame, and the leash was not needed, because he would never stray from her side. Zipper liked to walk down to the sandy edge and sniff the salt water, maybe think about fish for a minute or two, and then totter home.

Moose was a chocolate Lab so large they had respelled his name from (chocolate) Mousse. Macey and Moose would fly down Shell Road, Macey more on the leash than Moose. If Macey didn't take care of Moose's exercise, nobody would, because her grandparents had pretty much surrendered on the exercise front.

Macey took each dog separately, five minutes for Zipper and half an hour for Moose. Back in the kitchen, her grandparents were between cooking shows, and so they turned to their second favorite subject: what Macey was up to.

"We have to do a local history paper," said Macey. "When Mrs. Johnson assigned it this morning, it felt like a ten-ton truck driving over my shoulders. But I ran all the way here, and now I think it might be okay."

"Tomorrow morning we'll go to the library and dig for a topic," said Papa, waving a sifter. Flour dusted his face.

"Papa, I'm not that excited about it. Anyway," she said gloomily, "tomorrow I have Saturday Group."

There was an expedition arranged, and they were to meet at 8:30 a.m. Macey did not feel like showing up. Saturday Group was hard. Volunteer work was supposed to make you feel wonderful, but Macey just came home feeling guilty. She was not in a Saturday Group mood. She was in a sleep late, watch cartoons, eat stacks of waffles and do nothing mood.

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Burning Up 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 62 reviews.
harry76HF More than 1 year ago
Author Charoline B. Cooney When Macey goes to visit her grandparents she always takes the "shortcut" to get there. Everytime she runs by the foundation of burnt down barn. WHen her history teacher assigns a History report she decides to do a report on the barn. What comes next is the digging up of the cities worst secrets. When she decides to take on the project she also takes on a new friend Austin. First when they attend a community service project in the slums they become friends through a very interesting situation to say the least. What follows is alot of work and frustration between Macey Austin and the rest of the community. Bringing up past actions against the first African American teacher in the school in the late fifties. When her Grandparents are no help she does what ever it takes to avenge Mr. Silbeys accident and her friends death. I recommend this to anybody looking for a mystery that keeps you guessing right up til the end. It is an easy read that you can follow and get into.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thank you, Mrs Spears for having me read this book for Literature Book Group Circles! I LOVE it! I recommend it to everyone. :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fifteen-year-old Macey Clare was on her way to her grandparents she loved going to her grandparents house because of a boy that¿s now living across the street with his grandparents. His name is Austin and she has a really big crush on him but they don¿t have any classes together except for Saturday group but Macey doesn¿t like going to Saturday group but because she finds out Austin is going to the next one she goes to the church to on Saturday but everyone wants her to be careful because the church is in a town where a lot of bad things happen. When Saturday comes and they arrive at the church Macey doesn¿t get paired up with Austin, instead she gets paired up with a girl named Vinita to repaint some rooms. Vinita and Macey become really good friends after this although while their painting they smell something really bad so they go to look for it to see what it is and when they opened the door to go through it fire came out at them and Macey almost lost all of her hair so when Austin heard and everyone else heard the screams they all went to see what was going on, when they got to them Austin saved Macey with his shirt because Vinita had already gotten out and then they all ran through an exit. After the fire at the church Macey had only two inches of hair left so she got interested in the barn fire in 1959. Losing her hair in the fire was not the only thing interested her about the fire it was also that she needed that for her school project but it wasn¿t a good idea to choose that for her project because nobody liked to talk about it so that¿s what made her think that it was her grandparents and Austin¿s grandparents that set the fire but it wasn¿t.I liked everything about this book but some parts were confusing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Burning Up is a very interesting book. There are two main characters, Austin and Macey who are neighbors and really good friends. This is the main summary Macey is assigned a local history project and thinks about doing the old barn fire in 1959. She is in a Saturday Group with her neighbor, Austin. They were going to paint Sunday School rooms, but it all went wrong. One minute they¿re cheerful and happy, the next they¿re panicking and running from a fire! Austin catches a glimpse at Macey and her hair is on fire! He puts it out with his t-shirt. After the fire everybody is stunned and in shock, but Austin isn¿t. He figures out that he¿s crazy about Macey. What he doesn¿t know is that she¿s crazy about him, too. Macey does more research on her project and finds a lot of information that doesn¿t help her. Then she finds the man who was living in the barn. He tells her to be her true colors. She figures out what that actually means and in the end she says the sentence that explains it all. ¿There are other fires to put out.¿ I think the message that the author, Caroline B. Cooney, was trying to make is that not everybody is perfect and always be caring and show your true colors, even though your family¿s true colors may not be the same. I think that this book is truly wonderful and amazing because Caroline B. Cooney sends out the right message by saying always care and show your true colors, plus not everybody is perfect. I would absolutely recommend this book to people who like adventures, laughs, and just a little bit of sadness. This book is perfect for preteens, teenagers, and even adults!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I expected this book to be good. I thought there was going to be a good romance between Macey and Austin, but it turned out to be a dud. Dont' get me wrong, I love Carolyn B. Cooney, but this just wasn't her best book. I still have no idea why this book was rated 12 and up.It didn't have anyhting bad in it.
ewyatt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
We did this book for 7th grade book club. It brought up some interesting issues about race and class in the history of our country and also more recently. Macey doggedly pursues truth regardless of the resistance she gets from her community as events in her life intertwine with the burning of an apartment in 1959.
sammynop on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is about a girl who has to do a history report. Macy decides to do the report on a huge fire that happened about 30 years ago. Two days later, she goes to this church with her friend Austin to paint the rooms for community service. Macy is paired up with a girl named Venita. They become very good friends. A week later, Venita is murdered. Macy is upset and wonders if there is people in her town against black people. Macy then sees that her grandparents are a part of this. Macy is very upset. She tries to find out about the fire that happened 30 years ago, but no one seems to remember. Macy finally learns to let the fire and Venita go.This book was very good. I liked how Macy didn't give up even if people told her to. I was a little mad that Macy's parents didn't let her go to Venita's funeral. But I like the way the book was written and I like how Caroline Cooney mentioned Shakespeare. I think this book holds a life lesson. I think that the lesson is never forget the dead and never forget the past because you never know when it could mean something to somebody else later on.
bamabreezin4 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this. It made great use of symbolism and multiple themes that teens can either relate to already or learn to relate to as they read this poignant story that deals with the closet racism of many whites, even in the North, breakup of families, and secrets within those families. It does have two words that are considered strong language, though they are not used frivolously.
dor_ian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
welp good so far not done yet hope to finish to night
Bmitchell10 More than 1 year ago
This book is about a fifteen year old girl named Macey Clare. Everyday after school she takes shortcuts to get home. She happens to stumble upon a burnt down barn. She wants to know more about this barn. Around this time a fifteen year old boy, named Austin, moved from Chicago to Connecticut to live with his grandparents because of some family issues. The two teens had a crush on each other but niether one of them wanted to admit to it. They met at the town bonfire and had a conversation for the first time. Both of them were going to Saturday group the following Saturday to earn credits and help out people in need. This time they were going to Good Shepard church, which was in a very rough town. While they were there Macey had an accident, and the long brunette hair she once admired in the wind was now all gone. Because of this accident she wanted to learn more about the barn fire that was not topic of the town because it was not to be known by everyone. She had to do a history project on the town for school, so since she was so interested in the fire she was just going to do it. Now her and Austin, who she called Aus, were on a mission to find out eveything there was to know about this fire. Their grandparents were very close friends so when they found out about Macey's topic they shot it down faster than you can blink. Both sets of grandparents said that old ashes did not need to be stirred up by bringing this fire to the topic of this town. Because of the teens' decision to disobey their granparents, it leads to a mistake that could break apart both families forever. Austin and Macey learn about the year 1959. On one day in this year the town saw hatred, racism, arson, and now humiliation for the ones that remember it. This is a definite read filled with suspense, mystery, and a little romance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so good! I wish that Macey an Austin got together. They wouldve sounded like a great couple. Plus Macey and Autin sound really in love! xD
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was good, but it was not my favorite. It was good insight into the world that exists around us, but we ignore it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My thought when I first got this book was that it sounded ok. When I started reading I could not stop. It was amazing. A real page turner. I'm definatly going to read more of her books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Macey wanted to do a report on an old barn she lived nexted to.Nobody wanted to tell her what happened to it.It burned down many years ago.She started to do lots of research on the burnded down barn.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Macy, 15, Was in a church fire, when doing saturday school. After the fire, she starts to reserch a fire that happened in 1959. The book gets better half way through. Even if you hate to read, I think you will enjoy Burning Up By Caroline B. Cooney. Has a great ending that makes you think about the last sentence in the book. When you buy it, You won't regret it. GREAT BOOK!!!!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Macey ,a fifteen year old girl, has to do a project on history in her town. She is awestruck by a burned down building that she crosses everyday after school. She questions everyone about the night it was burned down, but can't get the answers! To her amazment, she find out that it belonged to the first black male teacher in her town. With the help of her friend Austin, she finds answers that she wasn't looking for. This book is great for anyone. It has prejudice and discrimination. I think the book would be great for black history month. This book shows you that everything isnt what it seems and no town is perfect! It really opens your eyes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Burning Up is one of the best books I've read. It was very interesting and made you think. It always left off with a great cliffhanger. I've never been much of a mystery reader, but this book got me hooked.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about Macey Clare and her little town in Connecticut. She uncovers a secret about a fire that went around an old school teacher. She becomes kind of obsessed with the fire. Every one in town says let the sleeping dog lie. She also has a little fire of her own in the city. She meets Venita, a black girl, and starts a friendship. And her not-quite boyfriend Austin helps her through her problems while dealing with his own. It's a very good book I recommend it.