Burned by Ellen Hopkins
Hopkins is known for taking on controversial topics: drug addiction, teen prostitutes teen mental illness and more. This time she’s taking a close look at an abusive family, which happens to be Mormon and lives in Nevada. Our protagonist is Pattyn Von Stratten, yes, she and all her sisters are named after military generals. Clearly her father keeps hoping for a son. He has an abusive relationship with alcohol, that Pattyn calls his Johnnie WB (after Johnnie Walker Black, a type of whiskey. The dad usually starts drinking on Friday afternoon after work, and continues throughout the weekend unless he loses his temper and beats on his wife. Pattyn spends most of her time taking care of her six younger sisters and the house, since her mom has retired to the couch and daytime television. Although Pattyn’s not allowed to date, she sneaks how with hot Justin from school. Sadly, she eventually get’s caught and is sent to live for the summer with her Aunt Jeanette in a small town in rural Nevada. Surprisingly, Aunt J turns out to be pretty nice, and there are no Mormon rules to follow and no babies to look after. For Pattyn, it’s almost like a vacation. Although she’s been sent there to “straighten up and fly right,” she learns how to be independent, how to be responsible and maybe she even learns how to be with a respectful boy who is definitely NOT Mormon.
I listened to this novel in verse on an audio CD, and felt it lost a little in the translation. Ellen Hopkins’ free verse poetry creates various meanings depending on how you read it. When its read, its more like prose which does tell the story, but is not the same. Nonetheless I would recommend this title to Ellen Hopkins fans and readers who like strong, emotional stories. If you’ve liked her other books, this one will not disappoint.
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