Oct 4, 2011

Review | Burned by Ellen Hopkins

Title: Burned
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Genre: Young Adult
Publication: 03.28.2006 by Margaret K. McElderry
Pages: 532
Source: Library

Summary: Raised in a religious -- yet abusive -- family, Pattyn Von Stratten starts asking questions -- about God, a woman's role, sex, love. She experiences the first stirrings of passion, but when her father catches her in a compromising position, events spiral out of control. Pattyn is sent to live with an aunt in the wilds of Nevada to find salvation and redemption. What she finds instead is love and acceptance -- until she realizes that her old demons will not let her go.

Cover: Similar to most of her covers, but the title is unique and has that burned effect that I really like.

May contain spoilers, but not really. Just proceed with caution.

Thoughts: I have been a fan of Ellen Hopkins writing since I read Crank years ago. I have never been disappointed with any of her books and Burned was no exception. Although I found it to be a little different than her others books, Burned is written in the same poetic/verse way that Hopkins is so famous for and her writing captivated me from beginning to end.

Pattyn has grown up in an abusive home and has pretty much raised her six younger sisters and herself on her own. She has also spent her life trying to be a good Mormon girl, but her world takes an unexpected turn when she begins receiving attention from a boy at school. Soon she starts feeling things she shouldn't and doing things that are sinful. Her view of her life starts to change, and she starts to question all that she's ever known about God, her family and a woman's role. Her changing attitude and her new behavior angers her father and upsets her expectant-again mother, so Pattyn is sent to live with her Aunt J a couple of hours away. There Pattyn learns many things she was told "women don't need to know," is finally treated with respect, and learns what it feels like to be cared for by a parent figure. She also meets Ethan, a young man who shows her what love really is.

I liked Pattyn, most of the time. It was hard for me not to be frustrated with her sometimes, but it was unfair for me to be so because the things she went through were not her fault. She felt real and her raw emotions pulled the story together. I wanted her to be a little more courageous, to stand up to her father and all the people who treated her badly, but she didn't. This made me feel even more connected to her, because she reacted the way most girls her age would. I loved Ethan and Aunt J of course, they are loving people and I totally loved that Pattyn was able to meet them and loved them back.

The story changes from pretty bad to really good, to shitty again. Even though Pattyn goes through a lot of tough stuff, I was surprised at how many good things there were. I think I was just a little thrown off that this book wasn't as dark as Hopkins others books and I am still  not sure how I felt about that. The ending is a really heartbreaking, but ended rather abruptly. I know that there is going to be sequel, but I am not sure how I feel about that. I just can't see how Hopkins will continue Pattyn's story the way it left off. I guess I will have to see.

I've heard a lot about Hopkins being wrong about the LDS and all the religious beliefs in the book. I do not know much about this religion or what they believe, but I do know that even though most of it may not be true of everyone, it may be true of someone or else she wouldn't have written about it the way she did. I feel that maybe if she wouldn't have involved any religion, the fact that her father was still abusive would have been almost enough. It is debatable, I suppose.

Burned was a great novel, but I feel that those of you who have never read any of Hopkins work, should start off with a different one. Burned was sad and heartbreaking, but definitely not as dark as other books (Crank or Tricks.) I was dissatisfied with the ending so I am looking forward to the next book. If you like Hopkins work, you will enjoy this one as well. Burned is a powerful read, with an important message that I am sure many will love. I definitely recommend it to older YA and adults.

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