Monday, September 14, 2009

Book Review: Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

by Ellen Hopkins
(c) 2007
Margaret K. McElderry Books

Three teens' lives intersect in a psychiatric hospital after their failed suicide attempts. All three of them had been failed catastrophically by the adults in their lives. The story is told by alternating first person POV scenes from Tony, Vanessa and Conner. Tony, whose home life had been so abusive he found living on the streets preferable had resorted to intentional OD. Vanessa, raised by a bi-polar mother and an absent (military) father had long been a cutter to ease her pain had slit her wrists. Conner whose cold, unaffectionate parents obsessed about his performance in school and on the football field, had shot himself in the heart.

In the course of their treatment the three are able to forge connections of emotional intimacy that offer hope of healing and a foundation for a future.

Like Hopkin's other novels, Crack, Glass, Burned, Identical and the recently released Tricks, the story is told in verse. And as with Crack and Burned which I read two years ago, I continue to be fascinated with

...the way Hopkins weaves dozens of one or two page poems that in many cases can stand alone into an intricately plotted, emotionally cathartic and psychologically complex story. The poems are sometimes rhyming and sometimes free verse and often carved out of space as well as molded with words as Hopkins uses placement of whitespace around lines and verses to indicate mood, theme or pace.

Hopkins' books have become a phenomenon among teens in the last half decade and won a number of awards in the literature for young adults category. I have my own teen-aged niece to thank for introducing me to Hopkins and loaning me her own copies of Crack, Burned and Impulse. Now I guess I'm going to have to compete with the local teens for a turn with the public libraries copies of Glass, Identical and Tricks.

Excerpts of Impulse and the other Hopkins novels can be found here. I encourage you to check them out.

3 tell me a story:

Julia Phillips Smith 9/15/2009 8:31 AM  

I popped over to her site and read an excerpt. I'd love to read a copy. How encouraging that a book in verse form is popular with teens.

Anonymous,  2/03/2010 4:34 AM  
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