Posts Tagged: Tough Subjects

Book Review – Identical by Ellen Hopkins

January 17, 2012 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2011, YA 0 Comments

Book Review – Identical by Ellen HopkinsIdentical by Ellen Hopkins
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on August 26th 2008
Pages: 576
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction, Verse
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned

four-stars

Do twins begin in the womb?
Or in a better place?

Kaeleigh and Raeanne are identical down to the dimple. As daughters of a district-court judge father and a politician mother, they are an all-American family -- on the surface. Behind the facade each sister has her own dark secret, and that's where their differences begin.

For Kaeleigh, she's the misplaced focus of Daddy's love, intended for a mother whose presence on the campaign trail means absence at home. All that Raeanne sees is Daddy playing a game of favorites -- and she is losing. If she has to lose, she will do it on her own terms, so she chooses drugs, alcohol, and sex.

Secrets like the ones the twins are harboring are not meant to be kept -- from each other or anyone else. Pretty soon it's obvious that neither sister can handle it alone, and one sister must step up to save the other, but the question is -- who?

This is not my first Ellen Hopkins book so I know by now not to expect fluffy bunnies and happily ever after endings. I know to expect a vivid depiction of exactly how life can be and is for some… but boy oh boy, this one really takes the cake.

Identical is the story of Kaeleigh and Raeanne, 16 year-old identical twins. Their father is a district court judge and their mother is currently running for Congress. On the outside their family is picture perfect… but look closely and you’ll see the cracks in their veneer. Kaeleigh has been sexually abused by her father since she was nine years old. Raeanne drinks and uses drugs heavily because she feels she’s the lesser twin that isn’t loved like Kaeleigh. Their story is a stomach turning experience.

I’m not sure I would have actually finished this if I didn’t have faith in Ellen Hopkins to pull off one whopper of a story, and sure enough she did. The ending blew my mind and almost had me wanting to sit down and read it again because every notion or preconception I had was way off the mark. Brutal story but so incredibly well done it was shocking.

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Book Review – Fallout (Crank, #3) by Ellen Hopkins

December 29, 2011 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2011, YA 0 Comments

Book Review – Fallout (Crank, #3) by Ellen HopkinsFallout by Ellen Hopkins
Series: Crank #3
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on September 14th 2010
Pages: 665
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction, Verse
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Triangles, Crank, Burned

four-stars

Hunter, Autumn, and Summer—three of Kristina Snow’s five children—live in different homes, with different guardians and different last names. They share only a predisposition for addiction and a host of troubled feelings toward the mother who barely knows them, a mother who has been riding with the monster, crank, for twenty years.
Hunter is nineteen, angry, getting by in college with a job at a radio station, a girlfriend he loves in the only way he knows how, and the occasional party. He's struggling to understand why his mother left him, when he unexpectedly meets his rapist father, and things get even more complicated. Autumn lives with her single aunt and alcoholic grandfather. When her aunt gets married, and the only family she’s ever known crumbles, Autumn’s compulsive habits lead her to drink. And the consequences of her decisions suggest that there’s more of Kristina in her than she’d like to believe. Summer doesn’t know about Hunter, Autumn, or their two youngest brothers, Donald and David. To her, family is only abuse at the hands of her father’s girlfriends and a slew of foster parents. Doubt and loneliness overwhelm her, and she, too, teeters on the edge of her mother’s notorious legacy. As each searches for real love and true family, they find themselves pulled toward the one person who links them together—Kristina, Bree, mother, addict. But it is in each other, and in themselves, that they find the trust, the courage, the hope to break the cycle.

Told in three voices and punctuated by news articles chronicling the family’s story, FALLOUT is the stunning conclusion to the trilogy begun by CRANK and GLASS, and a testament to the harsh reality that addiction is never just one person’s problem.

Crank series

Crank (Crank, #1)Glass (Crank, #2)

Crank (Crank #1) {Purchase}
Glass (Crank #2) {Purchase}

The final chapter in one of the most heart wrenching trilogies/series I’ve ever read. A truly emotional read and I believe a fabulous ‘ending’ although maybe ‘wrap-up’ would be a better description as the story is far from over.

In ‘Fallout’, Ellen Hopkins has switched up the point of view and timeline of the story. Set in the future, Kristina’s youngest son Hunter who was just a toddler in last book is now 19. The story is told from Hunter’s point of view, as well as Summer and Autumn’s: both Kristina’s children. By now Kristina has yet to fully get her life back on track and has 5 children all living with other family members or in foster care.

I was a bit skeptical at this change and how well I would enjoy it after reading through Kristina’s eyes for the past books, but I was pleased at how well written it was. The multiple POV reminded me very much of Triangles; however, I had difficulty in differentiating between Summer and Autumn for at least the first half of the book.

It was extremely intense ‘experiencing’ the impact Kristina had on each of her children. It was tragic, heartbreaking, and extremely painful to read about. Was it worth it? Yes. Ellen Hopkins has yet to disappoint and I continue to be amazed at how influential and powerful her books are.

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Book Review – Crank (Crank, #1) by Ellen Hopkins

November 21, 2011 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2011, YA 0 Comments

Book Review – Crank (Crank, #1) by Ellen HopkinsCrank by Ellen Hopkins
Series: Crank #1
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on June 15, 2010
Pages: 544
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction, Verse
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Triangles, Burned, Fallout

four-stars

This is a story about a monster. Not a dragon or a mythological beast, but a very real, very destructive monster--crystal meth--that takes hold of seventeen-year-old Kristina Snow and transforms her into her reckless alter-ego Bree. Based on her own daughter's addiction to crystal meth, Ellen Hopkins' novel-in-verse is a vivid, transfixing look into teenage drug use. Told in Kristina's voice, it provides a realistic portrayal of the tortured logic of an addict.

Crank, you see
isn’t any ordinary
monster. It’s like a
giant octopus,
weaving
its tentacles not
just around you,
but through you,
squeezing
not hard enough to
kill you, but enough
to keep you from
reeling
until you try to get
away.

The Storyline
Kristina is a high school junior who’s your typical normal kid who brings home good grades and has never done anything to disappoint her mom. Kristina though, isn’t always Kristina. Sometimes she becomes Bree, the girl she’s always wanted to be. The girl who tells it like it is, the confident one, the one who’s nothing like Kristina.

When Kristina goes to Albuquerque, New Mexico to visit her dad she meets the neighbor boy Adam and her life begins the slow roll downhill.

His voice dripped
Honey and cream,
Irresistible poison.

He was poison and he introduced her to another irresistible poison: the monster. Just trying it once and her life was forever changed.

My Thoughts
This is my third foray into the works of Ellen Hopkins and I have yet to be disappointed. These are hard books and I can see why people either love them or hate them. They wrestle the difficult subjects that normal authors refuse to touch in order to avoid controversy or dispute. I can understand this; however, that makes me love this author that much more because she does wrestle these tough subjects. She tackles them to the ground and does it with gusto.

All of Ellen Hopkins books tell a brutally honest tale and you’re not likely to get a happy ending either so don’t be surprised if you’re left beaten and bruised by her stories and not given your fairy tale ending. Her books just simply are take it or leave it. Personally, I can’t get enough of them; I find them incredibly hard to put down once I’ve started and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next one.

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