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Book chatter with Kat and Monica: Burned by Ellen Hopkins

Monica Threatt and Kat Leenders

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Ellen Hopkins is a woman of many talents, and like her her main character in the book Burned, she has overcome many adversities in life.  Twice divorced and former victim of domestic violence, Hopkins uses verse style writing that allows her readers to engage in a tantalizing read and to dissect the passages for hidden poems. In the text, Hopkins’ characters question the role of women, religion and government actions.

Six sisters, a passive mother, and an abusive, alcoholic father: these are the conditions in which a seventeen year old Mormon girl named Pattyn lives. Her household is dominated by her father who battles the “ghosts” of his late wife and sons with the help of whiskey and domestic violence.

Hopkins’ antagonist is realistic, and that makes Pattyn’s father all the more frightening.

After a risqué dream of her unattainable crush, Pattyn goes to the church for help. Unanswered questions –about liability and abusive relationships– and distrust play a major role in Pattyn’s dwindling faith.

Sent to spend the summer on her aunt’s farm in Nevada for her uncharacteristic actions in school, the notion of “God is love” is introduced. Pattyn learns more about her aunt, and how cruel her father is.  Pattyn starts to rethink her family’s values, and her own.

Pattyn applies the quote into her life and gets involved with Ethan, the boy down the road. Together they live happily until Pattyn’s disaster of a home life drags her back into reality. After a serious of events lead Pattyn to be disowned by her father, she is left with nothing except a gun, and the intention to end her father.

Hopkins’ novel is suspenseful and some scenes forced me to stop reading, process and find the courage to continue. While some characters live out their happy-ever-after, there is none for Pattyn; the novel ends with somewhat of a cliffhanger.

The sequel, Smoke is available here.

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Book chatter with Kat and Monica: Burned by Ellen Hopkins