Burned - Ellen Hopkins

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Author: Ellen Hopkins
Published by: Margaret K. McElderberry Books

Pattyn's extensive reading of books has made her a fiercely independent thinker. Seeing what women are capable of has made her rethink the Mormon way of life she was born into. With an abusive, alcoholic father, and a constantly there but never present mother - Pattyn starts to question everything she's been taught about who she is. When her teen rebellion proves to be too much for her father and her pregnant mother to handle, her parents send Pattyn to live with her father's estranged sister on a ranch in Nevada. There, Pattyn's eyes are open to a whole new way of life. One where she is in charge of her future and one where the future isn't so scary or unwanted.

Told in beautiful verse, the novel tackles some very tough themes including; abuse, alcoholism, sex, self-confidence, and family.

The verses that describe Pattyn's father's addiction to liquor and his quick temper resonant deeply. Though the scenes aren't graphic, the verses and lyrical way they are written make you want Pattyn to leave and never return. But when a letter from home arrives, Pattyn's unburdened, carefree summer comes to a halt when her younger sister tells her that their dad has moved from hitting their mother to hitting her instead. The explanation of why those who are abused do not seek help right away most likely comes straight from Hopkin's own world. As a victim in an abusive relationship, Hopkin's gives Jackie the ability to speak the truth about the real strength it takes to finally seek help and why many people don't.

To see Pattyn struggle with her wanting to stay at her Aunt's and needing to go back to look out for her sisters was very emotionally taxing. Hopkin's does an amazing job of telling a complete story in a relatively short amount of pages. By using verse instead of prose, Hopkin's allows readers to see the story for it's most important parts. There isn't a lot of extraneous detail. What has to be told, is, but you don't feel cheated out because of it. You're getting all the information and your brain puts in the rest.

The romance between Ethan and Pattyn seemed a bit rushed and a little unbelievable. Though the two of them are great together, Pattyn has only dated one other guy. Not only does she have nothing else to compare Ethan to, she barely knows herself yet. These are important factors when it comes to love. With her dysfunctional family, it's expected that Pattyn can't know this but she is trying to figure it all out.

Hopkin's ability to bring to light a myriad of issues in one dysfunctional family is quite a feat. The fact that she can do it without preaching and in a beautiful, fascinating novel is nothing short of amazing.

I give it 4 out of 4 cateyes.

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