Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tricks: Ellen Hopkins

Rating: 9.75/10
Genre: Poetry, Contemporary Romance, Realistic Fiction, LGBTQ+, Young Adult,
Publication Date: August 20, 2009
Publisher: Margaret K. Elderry Books
Page Count: 627
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought from $1 Bookstore in Long Beach

Synopsis: Five teenagers from different parts of the country. Three girls. Two guys. Four straight. One gay. Some rich. Some poor. Some from great families. Some with no one at all. All living their lives as best they can, but all searching...for freedom, safety, community, family, love. What they don't expect, though, is all that can happen when those powerful little words "I love you" are said for all the wrong reasons.

Five moving stories remain separate at first, then interweave to tell a larger, powerful story -- a story about making choices, taking leaps of faith, falling down, and growing up. A story about kids figuring out what sex and love are all about, at all costs, while asking themselves, "Can I ever feel okay about myself?"

Oh my gosh, this book. I believe it might be my favorite book in the entire month of May. Where do I begin? What do I say? How do I express all of the immense feels that radiated from my body as I read this masterpiece of contemporary/realistic fiction? 

What I would first like to point out was that this was an Ellen Hopkins book. Yes, I do believe that there should be a dictionary definition for a book written by this wonderful poet. What you really have to be warned about, is that you HAVE to read her books when you're in the right mood, otherwise you will end up hating them. They are usually written in verse or prose, extremely unique, well-written, and 99% of the time, deal with teenagers going through hell. 

IDENTICAL was about twins that both were suffering from various issues after their mother died. BURNED was about an extreme Mormon family and a young girl who tried to break free of it all to find love. 
CRANK was based on Ellen's eldest daughter that got caught up in the world of drugs. 

Needless to say, these WERE NOT pretty tales. TRICKS is no different, especially because of its particular subject. Teen Prostitution. I know a lot of readers will be stopped at those words, want to run away, and never look at another Ellen Hopkins novel again. And I would completely respect you if you did that, Hopkin's books -especially this one- are not for the faint of heart. 

TRICKS is extremely unique because it follows/is narrated by not one, not two, but five different teenagers. Three girls. Two boys. All with their own stories, pasts, situations, and personalities. I have to admit, it was darn confusing at times, but everything weaved together beautifully at the end.

I admit, I was a little squeamish at the thought of reading about teen prostitution, I was hesitant, and a bit anxious to see how everything would play out. I will also say that the first character to make that leap didn't until I was around halfway through the book. So, if you think you will be reading a book entirely about dumb kids selling their bodies so that others can do horrible things to them, you will be wrong (and hopefully, relieved).

What I would like to point out, is that, at the beginning, the five main characters, Ginger, Cody, SEth, Witney, and Edna are like any other normal teenagers you would see walking down the streets. They want freedom from their families, they have relationship issues, they want the latest iPhone (well, not really, but you get my point). Which just proves how easy it is to do something you never thought would before. Not that I'm saying that all normal teenagers will suddenly start becoming prostitutes. TRICKS just proves how easy it is to go down the wrong path in life. Yet, I also don't want people to think that it's all doom and gloom in the book. There is positivity, and humor, and most of all, there is hope (and killer quotes).

As a teenager in the throes of life, I know as well as anybody else that has gone through it, or is going through it that being a teenager aint easy. A lot of problems that arise come from the fact that you are surrounded by people trying to find themselves. This is a huge aspect in TRICKS because each character is just trying to carve their own path in the world, and find out who they are.

A Poem by Ginger Cordell ~ Faces
I wear too many faces some way too old to fit the girl glued to the back of them.
keep my faces in a box, stashed inside of me. It's murky in there, overcast with feelings I
allow anyone to see. Not that anyone cared enough to go looking. No one wants to 
what bothers me. Too hung up on their own problems. Sometimes I think I have to see
                                                                                                                                                       the real
Ginger, so I open the box, search inside. But no matter how hard I look, I can't find 

Another thing, when you read this book, you have to know what's in it. I know I have been saying it's about teen prostitution, but it's one thing to hear about it, or read about it. It is an entirely different thing to read it. In classic Hopkins style, she doesn't hold a thing back, everything is right there, out on the table, for the whole world to see. She doesn't sugar coat, she doesn't plaster on smiles, she doesn't pretend that things don't happen. As a reader, you get to learn the mechanics of the trade, and the emotional side of it. Hopkins gives you an almost inside look at these people's heads, which can be quite gruesome at times. 

When you sell your body, you also sell what's inside. Piece by piece, you sell your soul.

An issue that is also brought up a lot when you're a teenager, or in general with life is, "What ___ I do?" That blank spot could be filled with the worlds, "should," "would," "could," or "do." The bottom line is that people struggle with decisions, especially at adolescent age when there is so much indirectly and directly effecting a decision - peers, parents, school, environment. There is also the question of "Would I regret doing this more than I would regret not doing it?" Decisions are something that are not supposed to be made lightly, especially in regards to selling ones body for others use. The quote below really embodies just how hard it is to make decisions, and how much you regret the wrong one. There's also the psychological question of -Do I now make further decisions based on what I have done in the past versus who I am now?

A Poem by Cody Bennet ~ Afterthoughts
Why can't an afterthought be a forethought? Where does
take you if you're focusing behind you? What important
                                                                                                                                                is gained
when the lesson defies recollection? When Alice stepped
the looking glass, did she see herself backwards, or did the whole rabbit hole
simply make her close her eyes?

An issue with TRICKS that people had were the multiple POVs. I have got to admit that they were confusing as heck. While Ellen Hopkins did an admirable job at giving each character its own voice, I was still mixed up at times. The thing was that as a reader, I was so immersed in one Point of View, that even though I saw the name at the top of the page signifying anothers, I still had to do a double take at times because I didn't know how I got from one situation/location to another. So just be warned when flipping the page, and pay attention to the top of it. 

Conclusion: This was simply an astounding masterpiece that deals with a tough subject in a way that isn't overly graphic, but gives readers a brilliant picture of loss, regret, and hope.

Quotes 10/10: Almost every freaking page in this book could be an award winning quote, but I am just sharing a few of my favorites here.

A Poem by Eden Streit ~ Still Here
At least I think so, what's let of who I used tp be 
                                                                                                                                           a shadow
on the sidewalk, I look up, try to find a rainbow, but the only thing there is
                                                                                                                                        a lone cloud,
stretching thin and thinner, clear to almost not there across
                                                                                                                                  an upside-down sea.
I lower my gaze onto a puddle, close my eyes at what I see. Don't want to believe
                                                                                                                                   the ghost is me.

A Poem by Cody Bennet ~ Don't Know
He looks a lot like me. 
But his flame has been extinguished, 
buried too far beneath the soil to find enough to smolder. 
It is not more vague than a memory, all oxygen gone.

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