Tricks – Ellen Hopkins

Can you tell me how you ended up in “the business”?

More mostly truth. “I never wanted to.
I just didn’t know any other way to survive.”

Ellen Hopkins. Whenever I begin one of her novels I know I’m setting my heart up to be broken. It always feels as though my heart is being folded into some distorted origami design each time one of her characters is hurt or betrayed. Then the inevitable happens; one fold too many breaks me.

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

Why do I put myself through this? Because it’s worth it! I don’t think there’s an Ellen book I’ve read where I haven’t come away changed by the experience. They’re just so real and I love that about them.

Ellen opens my eyes in a way that I don’t think any other author ever has, and she does it over and over again. She takes issues I know about from personal experience, validates my feelings, shows me other perspectives and introduces me to characters who are willing to discuss what people I know don’t/won’t. She also takes issues I only know anything about from reading news stories, blogs or textbooks and gives me insights and understanding I may never have gained any other way.

When all choice is taken from you, life becomes a game of survival.

Ellen breaks my heart but she also enlarges it. I come away with empathy I didn’t know I still had. I come away with the confidence that regardless of how dire your situation may look and feel there is hope. If Ellen’s books had been published in the dark ages when I was a teenager I don’t think I would have felt so alone.

What is wrong with me? Why aren’t I worth loving?

Ellen opens my mind, allowing me access to people I don’t know in my life outside books. She takes topics that people discuss in terms of statistics and humanises them. Her characters stay with me when I finish reading and in the case of this book I wanted to adopt all of the kids I encountered.

I found myself with a preconceived stereotypical notion that all of the characters would eventually meet one another on the streets in Vegas. I was wrong. As I began to read about the five main characters I couldn’t help wondering how their lives were going to intersect. I became attached to the five as well as others like Ginger’s Gram and younger sister Mary Ann, and Andrew, who made me want to believe in true love.

Although I read the blurb prior to reading that told me otherwise I still assumed that most of the kids who feature in this book would come from extremely abusive families; probably because everyone I know personally who has been homeless has been for that reason. Again I was wrong.

You might be surprised at what you can do, should circumstances dictate.

I loved the book’s title even more after reading it. Tricks. I originally associated it solely with prostitution yet while I was reading I also began to associate it with the deception employed by the adults in the book.

I need to know what happens to these kids so I’m diving straight into the sequel.

P.S. My official review is finished. This rant is unrelated to the content of this book and is not aimed at the author in any way. This is going to sound like a whinge and you’re right; it is.

What I Didn’t Like: The price! This was the most expensive ebook I’ve ever purchased – $17.51! Even more when you convert that to Australian dollars. I could have bought the paperbacks of this and its sequel (if Amazon US still sold anything but ebooks to Australian customers) for $9.23! What the?!

I adore Ellen’s books! She’s one of my all time favourite authors so I want to be able to read her books over and over again. If I could afford it I’d buy a complete set of hardcover books as well but as it stands I’m struggling to even afford a set of ebooks. Okay, my whinge is over. You really need to read this book! 😃

Content warnings include sexual assault, gambling, abandonment, alcohol and drug use, murder, homophobia, seriously dodgy parenting, religion used as a weapon and probably a whole range of heartache I’ve already repressed.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

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?”

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