Book Review “Burned” Ellen Hopkins

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Pattyn Von Stratten is searching for the love she isn’t getting from God or her family in this novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkins.

It all started with a dream. Just a typical fantasy, but for a girl raised in a religious—and abusive—family, a simple dream could be the first step toward eternal damnation. Now Pattyn Von Stratten has questions. Questions about God, and sex, and mostly love. Will she ever find it? Pattyn 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 rural Nevada to find salvation and redemption. What she finds instead is love and acceptance, and for the first time she feels worthy of both—until she realizes that her old demons will not let her go. Those demons lead Pattyn down a path to hell—not to the place she learned about in sacrament meetings, but to an existence every bit as horrifying.

In this gripping and masterful novel told in verse, Ellen Hopkins embarks on an emotional journey that ebbs and flows. From the highs of true love to the lows of loss and despair, Pattyn’s story is utterly compelling. You won’t want this story to end—but when it does, you can find out what’s next for Pattyn in the sequel, Smoke.

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First lines: DID YOU EVER? 

When you were little, endure?

your parents’ warnings, then wait

for them to leave the room,

pry loose protective covers

and consider inserting some metal

object into an electrical outlet?

I don’t usually post Trigger warnings….however, I feel like this book needs them. The following is a list of triggers this book may contain for certain people. This list may contain SPOILERS.

Here is your chance to skip….

I’m about to list spoilers…..

Are you still with me?

Ok, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Trigger List

Miscarriage

Religious In-doctrine

Domestic Abuse

Child Abuse

Murder

“Burned” is a very intense read. What makes it so emotional is it’s close ties to reality. This book could be about someone I know. It could be about the religious zealot we have all seen at school, work or standing on a corner with a sign proclaiming the “end”. The portrayal of domestic abuse is chillingly accurate.   I grew up in an abusive home and I know first hand how close to reality this story really is. The feelings that Pattyn expresses are so real that it’s easy to forget she isn’t real and this is just a story.

“Burned” is shocking. If I had to sum the entire book into one word that would be it. It’s authenticity is shocking. It’s accuracy is shocking. It’s subject matter is shocking. But, this story needs to be told and I am extremely glad that Hopkins has told it so masterfully. 

Pattyn is a character that has stuck with me for a long time. See, this is a book I bought years ago. It’s been sitting on my shelf a long time. I’ve re-read it countless times. Pattyn is a character I know well. Her story is one I go back to again and again. 

This story is a dark one. It’s dark because reality can be dark. It’s not as simple as running away. It’s not as simple as standing up for yourself. In some households, that could get you killed. Or….someone you love killed. For those whose lives have not been tainted by abuse (religious or other) it’s hard to understand the darkness that surrounds you. The lack of faith and trust you have in humanity. The isolation you feel while surrounded by your peers. The choices you have to make…. The way people turn on you with breakneck speed. 

Thank you Ellen Hopkins for bringing the story of so many to the forefront. Thank you for telling it in its painful reality. Thank you for not sparing the bad. 

5 stars.

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Burned | Series: Burned Series  |  Author(s):  Ellen Hopkins |Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books / Publication Date: 9-10-2013 |Pages: 560 (Print) | ISBN: 978-1442494619  |Genre(s): Fiction & Religion & Young Adult |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 10-20-2016 |Source: Copy from personal collection.

About The Author

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I was adopted at birth and raised by a great, loving older couple. I grew up in Palm Springs CA, although we summered in Napa and Lake Tahoe, to avoid those 120 degree summers. After my adopted parents died, I did find my birth mother, who lives in Michigan with my half sister.

I studied journalism in college, but left school to marry, raise kids and start my own business–a video store, before the mega-chains were out there. After a divorce, I met my current husband and we moved to Tahoe to become ski bums and otherwise try to find our dreams. At that time, I went to work for a small alternative press, writing stories and eventually editing.

When we moved down the mountain to the Reno area, I started writing nonfiction books, many of which you can see here. The rest are viewable on my personal website. I also continued to freelance articles for newspapers and magazines.

All that has changed, with the publication of my novel, CRANK, which has led to a valued career writing YA novels in verse, all of which explore the more difficult situations young adults often find themselves in. Will I ever write one in prose? No doubt! But, for the moment, writing novels in verse fulfills two needs: writing poetry and writing fiction. The combination is so interesting!

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One thought on “Book Review “Burned” Ellen Hopkins

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Burned (Reread) – To Borrow or Buy

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