Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review: Burned

By Ellen Hopkins
Published 2006 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Pattyn's life begins to spin out of control after her first sex dream. Raised in a strict religious family, Pattyn has been taught not to sin. But that dream raises the first of many questions for Pattyn and sets her down a wildly different course than she ever could have imagined for herself.

When I went to ALA Annual last year, one the authors I definitely wanted to meet was Ellen Hopkins. She was there, doing a signing in her publisher's booth, and giving away advance reader's copies of her upcoming titles. Her older titles were also available for purchase at the signing. This was the only one of hers that I hadn't yet read, so I bought this one for her to sign. Of course, it took me over a year to get around to reading it, but that's not surprising to anyone who knows me. Anyway...

I really enjoyed this one. It is very much a typical Hopkins novel: gritty, with gripping realistic characters, dealing with incredibly tough and relevant issues. I can see this one being even more touchy than her others because it deals with religion - an incredibly tough subject for many people. I think Hopkins handles it wonderfully - she explains and allows readers to explore as her characters asks questions. I was definitely sucked into the story Hopkins was telling and really felt like Pattyn's was a story that would really resonate with teens. Religion is one of the things that teenagers are most struggling with in terms of understanding and evaluating their own feelings and thoughts. Novels with characters who are questioning their beliefs and ideas about religion provide a safe place for teenagers to think of their own questions. Of course, novels are still fiction, but they can provide a good starting point for teens who don't know where to begin. I especially enjoyed the ending of this one and am actually a bit disappointed to hear that there's going to be a sequel. I thought the ambiguous ending that Hopkins provided made the book more powerful and interesting. I wouldn't normally complain about a new Hopkins' novel but I think this one definitely could stand on its own.

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