Saturday, April 8, 2017

The You I've Never Known By Ellen Hopkins- Reshelved Books

I almost wasn't going to review this book.  At first  when I was reading it I wasn't sure I liked it, or even sure that it was really something that I felt like reading.  Hopkins usually tackles tough subjects in her books.  Im using the word usually as an overly generalized survey of her work, as the only other book I've read by her was Crank.  However, I love the way that she uses poetic verse to tell a story that is smooth, coherent  and quick.  So, when I saw this book on my public library's shelf, I took it home to give it a chance.    

Like CrankThe You I've Never Known tackles tough subjects often considered taboo, such as sexual orientation, the act of sex itself, the idea of belonging, and domestic mental / physical abuse.  However, what really piqued my interest and made me want to write this review was the underlying story line that Hopkins hints at and has come together in the end.  In this story there are two character voices.  Ariel, the voice of a young girl written in poetic verse who lives with her father because her mother "ran off with a woman," and who herself struggles with sexual identity, and Maya a teenager who's voice is written in prose and has become a pregnant young wife to an abusive man.  As the story progresses we see how these two different character's stories slowly diverge and blend.  Is Ariel really who she thinks she is? Is Maya more than what the reader knows her to be? 

At the end Hopkins writes that inspiration for this novel came from her own personal life, when her husband (or rather ex-husband) kidnapped their child.  This opens up a whole new world of difficult subjects.  Parental child abduction.  Without meaning it to be a spoiler, had I know that this personal and tragic event in Hopkins life inspired the story I think I would have enjoyed it much more from the beginning.  

So my dear For the Love of Dewey Readers, I leave you with a rating of 3 out of 5 coffee beans.  

Happy Reading. 


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