TRIGGER WARNING: SUICIDE, SELF HARM, DEPRESSION, ANXIETY, EATING DISORDER, ABORTION.
Hopkins, Ellen. Impulse. Simon and Schuster: New York, 2007. ISBN 9781416903567
Three teens with completely different backgrounds come together after making the same decision: to end their lives. Their attempt fails, and they are given a second chance, but only if they help each other and they learn to let go of their demons.
This book is life changing. At least, it was for me. I will preface this with saying: I suffer from depression and anxiety. I have on multiple occasions, followed their path in wanting to end my own. And like them, I have been given a second (or third or fourth or fifth) chance to make my life better. So for me to say that this was life changing, I mean it. Knowing that I’m not alone in my struggles is one of the best feelings ever, and it’s why I specifically love kid lit, and have dedicated myself to becoming a library. Now on to the review.
In terms of writing style, she can’t be beat. Yes, there are many beautiful novels in verse (more than I was aware of before staring this course) but Ellen Hopkins is unique. Her books, in my opinion, are more poetic than any verse novel I’ve read. Her imagery and description is extremely powerful.
The flow and rhythm is lyrical. There’s a beat you feel with every stanza you read. While it’s free verse, as most verse novels are, there’s a pattern to the style. It’s subtle, but it’s there.
The most impressive thing about her book, and it’s an ideology that I hold as well, is that she is not afraid to speak the blunt truth. In fact, she dares to shout it out! It is in your face. The topics her books cover are real and most of the time, painful. Suicide, self harm, mental illness, societal expectation, drugs, religion, abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking, and so much more are discussed in her books, because these are the things her audience is struggling with. She writes the hard things, the taboo things. She gives a voice to the ones who have been shamed into silence. And that is incredible.
This is a fantastic read, and my favorite of all her books. I highly recommend this for anyone!
“Back on the Road
And now it’s a gravel road,
rutted and scarred by winter,
slow going in this old four-by.
Everyone seems subdued, lost
in daydreams, anxiousness,
or the hypnotic lull of the sameness
outside the windows. This is high
desert at its most monotonous-
the cracked, white playa, giving
way to the miles and miles of sage,
greasewood, and cheatgrass.
And yet it’s riveting, beautiful
in its starkness.”
This excerpt is found on page 503. I chose it for its beautiful imagery. If there is one thing that Ellen Hopkins does well, it is setting the scene for her reader. You feel as though you are there in the desert. You can feel how the characters feel. Her vivid imagery is her biggest strength.