For my first blog post ever, I wanted to choose a book that was not only crazy good but also covered topics I felt a lot of other young people could relate to. So for this week’s book review, I am going to talk about Burned, by Ellen Hopkins. Hopkins is one of my favorite authors; before I even read this book I fell in love with her writing through her Crank series (which I may talk about in the future so stayed tuned). Her verse-oriented writing style and honest wit is something I have always enjoyed, so going into the beginning of Burned I had high expectations. And boy, did she not disappoint.
Burned focuses on Pattyn Von Stratten, a young woman who comes from a highly religious- and abusive- family. Due to the strictness of her religion, she is not allowed to have any sort of a relationship with a boy, especially one outside of her religion. All of this changes the day she meets a boy outside of her church whose interest in her results into a full-blown secret relationship, one that escalates until her father catches her in a less than appealing position. Pattyn is sent to live with an aunt she has never met in Nevada in order to be “straightened out”. While there, Pattyn finds what she never expected to: acceptance and friendship from a family member who can relate to what she is going through and real love from a boy who truly wants to be with her. But when faced with returning home, she will have to confront all of the feelings and people she left behind, and possibly even face a new challenge head on, in order to find out who she truly is meant to be.
First of all, if it was not clear when I hinted to it in my opening paragraph, I absolutely loved this book. The plot was so much deeper and had more twists than I expected, but it made for one exciting, interesting, and thought-provoking story. Pattyn is a character that I believe everyone can relate to. We all want to be accepted by our family and peers, we all want to find love, and we all go through that awkward stage when we are just trying to understand who we are physically and emotionally. Hopkins writes Pattyn as a real teenage girl, someone who I could find bits of myself in as I read the novel.
My favorite part of Burned, and all of Hopkins’ novels, has to be how she honestly talks about the issues that her novel was centered around. There is no “dumbing down” of the topics she handles in this book, which I as the reader found very refreshing. She talks about the struggles of being a teenage girl and the path to find understanding and acceptance as if she was still a teenager herself. It is this aspect of the book that I feel a lot of young people can relate to, that wanting to learn more about your body and your emotions in order to grow as a person. Hopkins handles this gracefully in Burned.
If when I mentioned earlier that Hopkins writes her novels in verse you got a bit scared, don’t be. The way her words are arranged on the page heighten the emotions of the novel to a level that cannot be reached by traditionally written novels. The story will suck you in so much that you will forget you are even reading a novel in prose; all you will be able to focus on is the incredible story of Pattyn.
If I had to put a rating on this book, I would give it a 4.5/5. I am trying to reserve my 5 out of 5 rating for the books that completely and utterly blow me away, and while this book came extremely close, I have to compare it to some of the other novels I have read in order to give it an honest rating. But this is certainly in my list of top books, and one that I will not hesitate to pick up again. If you have read this book or any other Ellen Hopkins novels, let me know in the comments!