Monday, January 17, 2011

Tricks by Ellen Hopkins

Pages: 628
Publisher: McElderly Books
Age Group: Young Adult (Mature Readers) 
Challenges: 350 Page Challenge
Release Date: August 25, 2009

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?"

Stars: 5/5
Cover: A-

Tricks is told from five different points of view. 

Eden has parents that are extremely religious, so much that she can't date until she's ready to marry. When she falls in love with Andrew, and her parents find out, she is sent off to a brutal religious facility in the middle of nowhere that is supposed to put her back on the right path to God. There, she is isolated, fed minimal amounts of food, and is never allowed outside of her little room.

Seth is gay. His mom died a year ago from cancer, and he can't tell his dad about his sexual orientation because he knows he won't understand. But when Seth's boyfriend moves away, and sends a letter to Seth, Seth's dad ends up reading the letter. He finds out that Seth isn't straight, and kicks him out.

Whitney lives in her older sister's shadow. She doesn't get along with her mom, and her dad lives a couple of hours away. She and her older boyfriend decide to run away together.

Ginger is one of many children. Her mom has a new man practically every other day, and it seems she barely even cares about her children. When an event happens that leads Whitney to the breaking point, she and her friend run away to Las Vegas together to get out of their crappy lives.

Cody's life is alright. He has a job at GameStop, and his family is pretty cool. But then, he gets addicted to gambling. He goes deeper and deeper into debt, and it gets to the point where he'll do anything for money.

I definitely thought Tricks was the most disturbing out of all the Ellen Hopkins books that I've read, but also the best. 

I love books that start off with the characters leading separate lives, and then by the end of the book they're all connected somehow. I just think it's a really great way to tell a story, and it takes a lot of planning and effort.

The whole book was fast-paced and exciting, and I didn't want to put it down. (Even though, like Identical, it got too intense to read in one sitting.)

I really liked all the characters, though my least favorite one was Eden. I just didn't understand why she did most of the things that she did, and she kind of frustrated me at points.

The characters had a lot of depth to them, and there was a lot of character development throughout the novel.

The characters definitely made the entire book. 

I usually end up feeling just a little bit sad after finishing one of her books though, and this book definitely didn't disappoint in that aspect. It makes me so sad to think that the things Ellen Hopkins writes about really do happen in the world, and that people have to go through it every day. It's definitely eye-opening.

Ellen Hopkins has a way of writing completely uncensored, and I think that's what makes me like her so much. She can tell it like it is, brutal honesty and all. 

I also love how at the end of each section, one characters' last words would tie into the next characters' first words.

The ending was pretty good. I really liked how everything ended, and how the loose ends were tied up. Ellen still left you wondering what would happen next though, which I think was the perfect way to end a book like this.

This cover is fantastic. I love the red, and how the paper looks like it's crinkled. My favorite thing, though, is the way it's made to look slightly charred around the edges.

Lovely Line:
I thought fairy tales were
lies or worse, promises
spoken, yet meant to be 
broken. Intent is all.

do grown-ups feel
the need to make up
a story, only to later
confess that it was a

Why look for a prince
when frogs are much
more common? Why
reach for a dream

you're at ease within
your nightmares? Why
scramble to disguise
what your personal

truth is
when reality not only
hurts less in the long
run, but is most often

the easier path?
(Page 164)

The Final Verdict:
Be cautious before you pick this book up. If you get nightmares easily, this probably isn't the book for you.

It's disturbing and dark, but also enlightening and entertaining.

I recommend this book for kids in high school and up.

FTC: I borrowed this book from my brother.


  1. I've had this one in my TBR pile for a while, but it's definitely moving up now :P

    I love your blog's design! Check mine out when you get the chance?

  2. Yes, move it up, up, up!


    And thanks! :D


I love getting your comments, and I try my best to respond to everyone!

Thanks for taking the time to give me your feedback. :)