Tricks by Ellen Hopkins (Goodreads)
Tricks is a story of love – love that is misguided, love that is misinterpreted, love that goes wrong. In her signature beautiful poetic writing style, Ellen Hopkins takes the reader on a journey that interweaves the lives of five teenagers who are desperate to be loved and are trying to figure out what saying “I love you” really means. Let me introduce you to our cast of characters:
Eden, the daughter of a born-again minister in Idaho, who falls for an older boy and has to deal with the consequences of misbehaving in an ultra-religious family.
Seth, a gay teen in Indiana, who is struggling with the loss of his mother and the fear of showing his real self to his homophobic father.
Whitney, a girl who has always felt that her mother loved her sister more, and is desperate to be loved in the way she feels she deserves.
Ginger, the oldest daughter of a prostitute, who is dealing with raising her five siblings and what happens when her mother’s life leeches into her own.
Cody, a teen living in a happy, supportive family in Las Vegas – until everything starts to fall apart.
Some of these teens are living in awful situations, some are very well off, but all of them are struggling with the idea of love – familial love, romantic love, even love of themselves. Throughout Tricks, the reader follows these five teens as they make different decisions in the name of love, and land themselves on a path they never imagined could happen to them. Ellen Hopkins tells their stories beautifully, and interweaves the stories of these teens who just need someone to care.
I purposely left my description of this story a little vague, because there are lots of twists and turns in this book that I think are much more poignant when you discover them for yourself. What I love about Tricks, and all of Ellen Hopkins works, is that it does not shy away from the grittier side of life. So many contemporary books today are about unrealistic fairy tale love. But Ellen Hopkins shows us that there is pain and suffering and struggle in the world – and she does it absolutely beautifully.
I have only read two of Ellen Hopkins’ books – Tricks and Rumble – but I have enjoyed them so much that I am in the process of collecting all of her works. I can’t wait to read more of her tragic and beautiful stories. I highly, highly recommend that you pick up Tricks and give it a try. However, this book is definitely only appropriate for mature readers. There are many graphic scenes of sex, prostitution, and drug use. There is also a trigger warning for this book for rape and sexual assault, so avoid it if these issues upset you. This book is definitely tough to read, but it is so worth it. I am so enamored with Ellen Hopkins, because she is not afraid to discuss topics that are so often swept under the rug and not discussed, especially in Young Adult literature. I am slowly building my Ellen Hopkins collection, and I can’t wait to dive into another one of her books.
When you are grateful for an author who doesn’t hold back…..
…..blame it on the books.