Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
In this gripping novel in verse, Hopkins tells what happens to three suicidal teenagers who meet in a clinic for “troubled youth” in Nevada. First there’s Conner, who seems to have the perfect life if you don’t look too closely. He lives in a mansion in an exclusive part of town and is very popular at school. Along with this, however, he has parents with impossibly high expectations who are always comparing him to his “perfect” twin sister Cara. Then we meet Tony, a street kid who’s been in the juvenile detention system since he was a young child, but readers won’t learn why until much later in the book. We just find out that he’s gay and been a prostitute on and off just to survive. Lastly is Vanessa, the beautiful girl with a secret so dark the only way she believes she can relieve her pain is by cutting herself. These three patients slowly become friends as they find they have more and more in common with each other. Sharing their pasts is excruciating, but carefully they reveal their darkest mysteries to each other, learning to trust and love in the process.
This book is full of bleak topics: sexual abuse, self-mutilation, drug abuse, parental neglect, mental illness and suicide. Like all of Hopkins’ books, the author has done her research, and presents her characters in a realistic, if depressing fashion. I found this book engaging, yet sad. It didn’t really matter that I read it after I read Perfect, as there was only one character in common. I would highly recommend this to teen readers who like realistic fiction and fans of Hopkins’ other titles.
Click HERE to see the review of the companion novel Perfect.