Burned by Ellen Hopkins

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Poetry

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  530 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

Awards: Iowa High School Award Winner 2009-2010

This story is told in poetry form and follows a young girl named Pattyn whose strict family belongs to the Church of Latter Day Saints.  She is the oldest of six girls and her father does not hide the fact that he would prefer boys.  He often drinks and then hits Pattyn’s mother and the other members of the congregation look away.  As Pattyn begins to think about boys, love, and women’s roles in life she begins to question everything her family stands for.  After some mishaps at school she is sent to live with her aunt who opens her eyes to a different way of life.  Will she ever be able to break free of her family?  Will she ever be able to protect herself from her father’s wrath?

This story depicts a very dysfunctional family through the eyes of the oldest teenager daughter.  She struggles with finding right and wrong and wonders if she is wrong to want a better life than what her mother has.  The time she spends with her Aunt is refreshing as Pattyn begins to learn and grow in a bigger world than the one her family has shown her.  Her summer romance with Ethan shows her what a good relationship is like with open communication and mutual respect.  The story ends ambiguously and many readers will wonder what actually happens to Pattyn.  The ending reminds readers that sometimes there is no happy ending for the characters you have come to care about.  This is a serious book that discusses serious issues.  Fans of A Child Called It or The Rules of Survival will find this interesting.  Those looking for a lighthearted romance need to keep looking.

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