Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Burned by Ellen Hopkins...

How I Heard About It:  I've seen the different covers for Ellen Hopkins' books over the years.  They always grabbed my attention, but I didn't know much about her or the stories.  Last weekend while I was stacking up on audio books from the library, I noticed a few of her books on the shelf.  They didn't have her first novel Crank, but did have this one which was the second book published.  I listened to it on my daily commute to and from school.  

What It Is About:  Pattyn has grown up in a religious Mormon family.  She is the oldest of many siblings.  Her family appears to be "perfect", but they have some heavy secrets behind closed doors.  Pattyn's father drinks too much and when he does he is abusive toward their mother.  When her mother becomes pregnant again, the abuse is directed toward Pattyn.  She turns toward a boy who she believes likes her.  When her father catches them together, he sends Pattyn to live with her aunt out in Nevada for the summer.  At first, Pattyn is angry about this decision, but after spending time with her aunt and being away from the family she realizes there is more to life.  She always realized this, but didn't know how to obtain it.  While in Nevada she meets another young man and they begin to grow close.  When Pattyn receives a letter from one of her sisters about what is going on back on home, she knows she must return.  Once back at home, things aren't any better, in fact they are worse.  Pattyn knows she must get out before something really wrong happens. 

What I Thought Of It:  This was an easy listen and I finished it in one week.  I didn't realize the story was written in prose until I read some online reviews after finishing it.  No wonder it was such a quick listen.  I enjoyed the story even though it was pretty depressing and heavy.  Not knowing much about the Mormon way of life, this was an interesting insight.  I enjoyed the relationship that Pattyn formed with her aunt while in Nevada.  She was the one character that was somewhat positive and gave hope to this young girl.  The ending was shocking and I didn't see it coming at all.  I still have some questions about the conclusion and hope to find some comments online to clarify a thing or two that I still have now that I finished the story.  

Who Should Read It:  The story is perfect for the high school reader.  I know that the author's books are quite popular and have sold millions of copies.  I'm sure females would be more drawn to the book than males, but there are several major characters that are male.  Young-adults can learn about the Mormon way of life; both positive and negative.  If a young-adult reader were a struggling reader, this might be a good fit because it is a pretty quick read.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

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