Saturday, October 12, 2013

Burned by Ellen Hopkins

Raised in a religious LDS home, Pattyn von Stratten doesn't know much more of life than helping raise her younger sisters, going to seminary every week, and helping her mom around the house with doing all the household chores for her lazy mother. At home, Pattyn fears the wrath of her father, especially when he's under the influence of his friend, Johnny Walker Black, which is pretty much every day.

When an incident at school forces Pattyn's parents to send her away to live with her Aunt J in the rural highlands of Nevada, Pattyn sees this as not only an opportunity to get to know a long estranged relative, but to also enjoy the freedom of being away from her demanding family, especially her father. What Pattyn wasn't expecting was to find love and acceptance in Ethan: the son of the man who caused Aunt J's long-time family estrangement in the first place. It is through Ethan that Pattyn learns of physical and emotional intimacy and from both Ethan and Aunt J, Pattyn finally discovers the meaning of unconditional love. But despite her contented life living with Aunt J, Pattyn still feels a sense of foreboding: wondering when her father will come and take it all away.

Oh I am feeling ALL THE THINGS! What an emotionally powerful novel! I really rooted for Pattyn all throughout this story and could feel the love and acceptance she found with Ethan. Despite the fact that novels with any kind of romance tend to make my eyes roll, I found the intimacy written in the pages of Pattyn and Ethan's love story necessary to rooting for them as a couple. The tenderness shared between the two of them juxtaposes the dysfunction and violence Pattyn experiences in her own home.  

After finishing Burned, I immediately started reading Smoke because I desperately wanted to know how Pattyn's story ends. I pray it's more hopeful than how this book ended, something Hopkins herself admitted the sequel will hopefully mollify for her beleaguered readers. 

Burned is my second Ellen Hopkins novel I've read, Crank being my first, and I have to say that I felt much more emotionally invested in this book than her first one. The verse format seemed more like a gimmick in the first book but felt more purposeful in Burned. Then again, maybe that's just because I have become more familiar with Hopkins's style of writing.

I would hand this book to readers who are fans of edgy YA fiction, but I might also suggest lovers of Eleanor and Park give this book a try since Eleanor and Pattyn's stories are quite similar. 

Burned by Ellen Hopkins
Series: Burned #1
Published: April 1, 2006
Publisher: McElderry Books
Pages: 532
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Verse Novel
Audience: Young Adult
Disclosure: Purchased Copy

1 comment:

  1. I've been hearing a lot about Eleanor and Park, but this one is new to me. Interesting to find a similar story that worked for you.