REVIEW: “Burned” by Ellen Hopkins

January 31, 2009

My mother was kind enough to pick a copy up for me a few days ago. I devoured the whole book in one day. I was glued to just about every page as I was addicted to Ethan and Pattyn’s romance, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Pattyn Von Stratten is a good Mormon girl. She feels plain,as she takes care of her stay-at-home mother’s jobs like cleaning, washing clothes, and taking care of her six younger siblings (technically five) along with the help of her favorite sister. While her mother lays around the house all day. When her father comes home with “Joannie” most nights, there is trouble. The kids are rushed back to their rooms as their mother takes the blow. The abuse. Pattyn has her first sex dream, and it involves her school crush. Though instead of kissing Justin, it is Derrick who steals her heart for the moment. After the first kiss there are a lot more, with tequila and beer along the way. One day her father finds her in the said, “compromising position”, and things keep going in a downward spiral for Pattyn until finally her father sends her to live with her Aunt J for the summer.

Living with Pattyn’s Aunt J was supposed to be a punishment not a reward, but things start to go Pattyn’s way. Then she meets Ethan. This can’t just be a summer fling, right? Right. Ethan shows Pattyn love, more than she had asked for. Though if her father were to ever find out she was dating than, Ethan who was not Mormon, they both would be dead. Literally. Pattyn has to go back home at the end of summer vacation. *** SPOILER ALERT*** As Pattyn takes the abuse from her father, bruises and blood are left. After that she finds out she is pregnant. Pregnant with Ethan’s baby. Plans are made for Ethan to come down and get Pattyn one day after school to take some time to ponder what they are going to do. Not noticing someone has taken off their licence plates, the police attempt to pull Ethan and Pattyn over during their “escape” drive. Pattyn orders Ethan not to stop, go faster. Until the accident. Ethan and the baby are both gone, dead. Pattyn is devastated (so was I) and decides life no longer matters….

I absolutely adored this book. I was intrigued with Pattyn and Ethan’s romance, which I wish could be real ALL the time. I loved her Aunt J, she reminded me of the woman who played Bella’s (Twilight) mother IN THE MOVIE. Happy, outgoing, smart, loving. I wish I had an aunt like that, cross that, I do. I was terribly annoyed that her mother, her sister, nor her own self told anyone (minus Ethan) about their beatings from their father/husband. This book explored the emotions of  joy, excitement, lust and love, complete with anger, hurt, devastation, and tragedy. Weaving together a masterpiece, which I would recommend to any Ellen Hopkins fans or just someone looking for a quick yet intriguing and beautiful read. FIVE OUT OF FIVE STARS.

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What a Day

January 29, 2009

Today I was shadowing at the school I will go to next school year. It was nerve wracking thinking about it, even though I was only going to follow a girl around her school all day. I had to be awake by six thirty this morning to make it on time. School starts at 7:10 for them, which sucks for me. The school is in the downtown area which is about a twenty minute drive.

I arrived at the school building feeling panicky, my mouth kept twitching with anxiety. (What a wuss!) I had to go through the metal detectors, then into the office where I waited for a girl named Rose. I stood there with my little bag which held a couple pens, a notebook, my lunch, and a book (“Burned” by Ellen Hopkins to be exact). When Rose arrived my mother signed a slip and left. She turned and looked at me, smiled, and spoke, “Your lip just twitched.” then gave me a half hug. Rose and I were then asked to the guidance counselor’s office to be asked questions about the shadowing. It took a couple minutes, but was taken care of with a phone call to my mother.

While I was in a few of her classes I had time to make a couple journal entries. My first was in her French class, first period.

Journal entry #1

There isn’t one boy in the classroom. I looked around the room several times to see all girls populating the classroom. The class was interesting. When they spoke in French it sounded intriguing, minus the fact I hadn’t a clue what they were saying. The words that were flowing off their tongues sounded so… hmmm… interesting, though that isn’t the right word. Oh well. The teacher seemed nice I suppose, though I haven’t known her long enough. Challenging for sure, at least from my perspective. Maybe this is a class I might want to think about taking up, it is just the comprehending part I’m worried about. The students were reading from their books, as the teacher would call out names to read sentences (some girls were obviously unsure about what they were reading). Then we had to listen to an audio tape and identify what they were saying. To end class, they played a game where the teacher would call out a word in French and the first person to write out the word in English, correctly, would earn their team a point.

 SCHEDULE 7:10 -2:10

– French

– Health

– ??

– Band

– Lunch

– Latin

– Geography

– English

A couple hours passed and I didn’t write a thing, but I did read. Health was scary. The kids were crazy, loud, rude, creepy, disrespectful. The whole deal. I just sat there staring at the pages I was easily reading. Afraid to look up, feeling like a million pairs of eyes would be staring at me. I recognized a kid who used to go to my school. Only because of his neon, lime green Converse, I saw. Then I looked up to see his long brunette hair that I remembered. Finally the bell (buzzer really) rang and I was saved.

The name of the next class was unknown to me and I never found out. I felt more comfortable in this room. As I read more of my book. I held a uni-ball pen in my hand for no reason really, just something to hold onto to boost my comfort zone (like wearing jackets ALL the time). A girl Rose was friends with talked to me. Mainly about books. She said had read “Burned” and told me it was amazing. I then noticed she was carrying “Thirteen Reasons Why” around and we both agreed it was pretty good. 

Band was next. Rose didn’t really stop back at her locker so we kept on walking  (rushing) down to the band room. In that room I recognized another boy from my school, his name is Austen. He is quite mischievous, he looked the same in the face, maybe a little more mature. Medium brown skin with a vague red tint. Whatever. Unfortunately I didn’t have much time to read during band. Though the class did not play their instruments, instead they filled a work packet while the teacher handed me one to look over.

LUNCH. Whooo!! Eating lunch was easy. Talked with a couple more of Rose’s friends. One who I thought was awful, the other liked the same kind of music as me. In fact we both said we loved Brendon Urie from Panic At The Disco, and I told her I saw them in June of last year. She was in shock that they even came here and then it turned to fake sadness. I ate most of my lunch, while still being asked, “Are you new here?” (which got rather annoying). Yet, I still felt like the odd one out. After lunch we shimmied back up the steps to Latin.

Journal entry #2

Latin. It’s interesting so far. Though I am yet to hear someone speak the language. I was handed a quiz paper and a book, even though the teacher was told I was shadowing. He told the class all of the questions to the test can be answered on page 175 in the book. I thought, What the heck, might as well fill it out. Not knowing the timer would go off I took my sweet time writing down the answers. I think I wrote down at least six, complete sentence, answers when the timer went off. With that I think I’ll just recycle the paper, besides I won’t be back here until next school year. The teacher started asking the questions from the test, which lead in to other discussion. The teacher seems nice, humorous, or at least trying. Though I haven’t seen him mad so I can’t label too soon.

Geography made me freak out. I didn’t like it, but I don’t really like school at all so…. I was in the front row, yet I still had trouble reading what was on the board.  They were taking a pop quiz and when I didn’t answer the question I felt (and heard) kids getting mad at me. I felt like the teacher was staring me down, maybe I was just paranoid. My next journal entry.

Journal entry #3

Okay so I know I want to come here next year. It is definitely challenging. The only things I’m afraid of are the early mornings (gotta be up by six and there by seven), the students, a couple teachers, and the hallways in between classes. Hopefully I’ll have a few friends to face it with me. Right now I’m going to try and relax before the time comes at the end of August. (And during the last week of summer break that I’ll have to “prep” for those wonderful (note sarcasm) early mornings.)

English was okay. I wish they had a better teacher, but I didn’t see the students “in action” either. My last journal entry.

Journal entry #4

So this is Rose’s last class, English. She told me about her “bipolar” teacher, I guess could agree. Things are pretty simple at the moment. The class is tame (which is again, mainly populated by girls). They are correcting and finishing their papers, while I read some more. I’ve gotten some great reading in today. Though not much writing time because I’m afraid kids will read my notes. Back to the book – My mom picked up a copy of “Burned” by Ellen Hopkins for me yesterday night and I’ve already devoured 350 pages. YAAYYYY!!

Once the bell rang I grabbed my things out of Rose’s locker and waited for her to show me back down to the office. I walked into the office to find my mother waiting for me.


Identical

January 28, 2009

I started reading a book called “Identical” by Ellen Hopkins yesterday. If you have read any of Hopkins’ writing you’ll know she writes in verse, like poetry. There is a scene in the book where Kaeleigh escapes from her problems by cutting her leg. I wrote this poem from her perspective yet trying to make it different from Hopkins’.

She remains unsure    n2643301

Hands shaking, eyes closed,

Picking up the razor

Been shaving these legs for years

I’m careful, right? 

Blood

Flows from her long gash

Engraved into her leg

I thought cutters were sick?

More so, than my own self

I see how addicting this pain feels

Hot water

Washing away the blood

I need to clean up

Baggy sweat pants and T-shirt

I look like a hippie

What will daddy say?

“No daughter of mine

will leave my house dressed like

This”


Impulse Playlist

December 19, 2008

I read a book called “Impulse” by Ellen Hopkins. It was amazing, brilliant, brutal, satisfying, gut wrenching, and tearful. If you haven’t read it then I recommend you go pick up a copy from the library or Barnes and Noble. On the back of the book where you find out whether you would or wouldn’t like to read it, it says “Tony’s painful childhood memories keep him quelled only throught pills. Vanessa has a secret that keeps her coming back to the blade. And Conner seems to have the perfect life on the outside, but his inward battle with his parents, his peers, and himself give him one last choice – to pull the trigger.

These are three lives that would have been cut short if not for the hasty intervention by loved ones. Or fate. Now they are given a second chance at a better life – but only if they help one another, and if they find the strength to let go of their inner demons. For good.” 

I was thinking of the book yesterday, about some songs that fit the characters but also the story. So here is my playlist that IS NOT in any specific order, yet. I will mention why I choose these songs them and what parts they fit in. If you have any suggestion do comment on my post.

Emergency – Paramore  I choose this particular song because the title is “Emergency” and the beginning of the story shows how Vanessa, tony, and Conner almost killed themselves, meaning there was an emergency.

I’m a Fake – The Used  At the beginning of this song the lead singer, Bert MaCrackin, says ” Small, simple, safe price rise the wake and carry me with all of my regrets. This is not a small cut that scabs, and dries, and flakes, and heals. I am not afraid to die. I’m not afraid to bleed, and f***, and fight. I want the pain of payment.” then going on ” My sad, sorry, selfish cry out to the cutter. I’m cutting trying to picture your black broken heart. Love is not like anything especially a f***ing knife.” I thought this was from Vanessa’s perspective of life and death. When she is kneeling over the bathtub sawing through layers of skin, thinking of her secret.

We Are Broken – Paramore  This song makes me want to break down to tears. I thought these lyrics summed up how each Conner, Tony, and Vanessa were hoping to feel in the end. Scarcely keeping hope. “Cause we are broken. What must we do to restore? Our innocence…”

Sleep – My Chemical Romance  This song choice in my opinion is telling how they all are trying to run away from their past by saying “Shut your eyes, kiss me goodbye and just sleep.”

What I’ve Done – Linkin Park  Conner, Vanessa, and Tony are trying to forgive themselves, accept their pasts, get over their miserable thoughts but occasionally drown back in them. Yet a couple of them are thinking, what have I done?

Blackout – Muse  Every time I listen to this song I picture a ballet. A sorrowful dance ultimately brilliant and beautiful. It is talking about how short our lives are and how we should use our time wisely because they soon fade… away.

Everybody’s Fool – Evanescence  Conner has always been told to be perfect, yet he feels like everybody’s fool. Nice clothes, house, money, body, he has it all right? All Conner wants is to escape from his life to neverland.

Hero/Heroine – Boys Like Girls  “I feel like a hero and you are my heroine.” is the chorus in this song. Tony has been saved by this astonishing girl named, Vanessa. Vanessa becoming to love Tony more. Is it “true” love?

Lies – Billy Talent  Lies. Yes they make it better, right? At least for a while. The characters try to cover things up with lies and blur thoughts that shouldn’t float around in their heads. Vanessa’s mother was schizophrenic and also bipolar. Vanessa cannot seem to accept that being bipolar is genetic.

Baby, You Wouldn’t Last One Minute on the Creek – Chiodos  Conner was dating an older woman, his teahcer. He speaks of her frequently, though she had told him it wasn’t right. This song descrbes their relationship in my opinion. “Let’s turn around and head in different directions. It’s like we never… it’s like we never knew each other at all.” later saying “This is probably the best. Not to mention, the worst idea that I have ever had.”

Soft Skeltons – Anberlin  Tony has had a terribly rough childhood. His mother being a prostitute, Tony being abused by her many boyfriends, leading up to something his mother chose not to believe. This song is giving those hope.

Dismantle. Repair. – Anberlin  As the main characters begin to help each other through difficult times, repairing one is dismantling the other.

Closer – Kings Of Leon  This song is talking about how both Tony and Conner have fallen for Vanessa. This is strange for Tony , “She took my heart, I think she took my soul. With the moon I run, far from the carnage of the fiery sun.”

Existentialism on Prom Night – Straylight Run  *SPOILER ALERT* This is another song where people are brought to tears as Connor has just jumped over the edge.

Demolition Lovers – My Chemical Romance  *SPOILER ALERT* This song is my absolute favorite My Chemical Romance song. I think it ends the playlist quite well. In the end Conner stops taking his anti-depressants and commits suicide by jumping off a cliff. Vanessa and Tony mourn together in a loss of a friend.

   View and listen to the playlist tracks at… http://view.playlist.com/14247496715

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