I LOVE Ellen Hopkins. I love how she is completely fearless. Not at all afraid to write about the ugly stuff, whether it's sex, violence, drugs, incest, she's written about it all, completely unapologetic. She knows that this stuff happens in real life, and that no good will come of covering it up and pretending it's not there. Any time there is any controversy over her books (like earlier this year when her invitation to a book event in Texas was revoked) my heart breaks for her and the readers that censors are depriving of her books.
As well as being fearless in the topics she chooses to write about, Ellen Hopkins is also not afraid to experiment with the way she tells her stories. Her novels-in-verse are groundbreaking in both the stories they tell and they way they tell them. She's made the YA novel-in-verse what it is today.
Tricks, which was released last year, is about five teenagers who fall from grace in various ways and all end up as teenage prostitutes. Eden ran away from her controlling religious family. Whitney was lured away from her upper-class family by a manipulative older man. Ginger, the daughter of a prostitute, ran away after being raped by one of her mom's johns. Seth leaves his conservative Indiana home and becomes a kept boy for a rich older man. Last but not least, Cody turns to drugs and prostitution after his stepfather's death to support a gambling addiction. At first each teen's story is isolated, but they start to weave together and overlap at the end.
The characters were, for the most part, very three-dimensional, but I found that they started to blur together. I had trouble keeping Ginger and Whitney separate in my mind. Five POV characters is a lot, and it's commendable that Hopkins was able to do it as well as she did. Their stories were extremely realistic, in a heartbreaking way. At times the downward spirals of the characters were predictable, but I think that's what made it so sad. You really started to like the characters in the beginning, and when they started to slip into drugs and promiscuous sex, it really breaks your heart.
Although I still like Burned better, Tricks was a great read and I really recommend it to readers that aren't put off by drugs, sex and violence. Since I really like all those things in a book, Ellen Hopkins gets my support 100%!