Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Review of Tricks by Ellen Hopkins

Tricks by Ellen Hopkins; Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2009
Tricks is the story of five teenagers who, because of different circumstances, end up in the prostitution business. Eden, who comes from a strict religious background, escapes from a rehabilitation center for wayward teens. Seth is thrown out of his home by his father, who discovers he is secretly gay. Sibling rivalry and boyfriend disillusionment pushes Whitney over the edge, and, unbeknownst to her, she hooks up with a pimp. Ginger runs away with a friend after she discovers her mother has sold her to be raped. The death of a stepfather and a gambling problem causes Cody to turn to prostitution to pay bills and cover debts. Ultimately, each teen goes into a downward spiral, which results in their ultimate destruction.

What can I say about the writings of Ellen Hopkins that hasn’t already been said? This book is edgy, brutal, graphic, and honest. Readers who have devoured her books will not be disappointed. However, as an adult, this book was extremely hard for me to read. To watch some of these teenagers be ignored and abused by their parents was just excruciating. I wanted to step into the story and help these kids! Of course, I am sure that is one of the reactions for which Ms. Hopkins was hoping! Every chapter was told alternately from each character’s viewpoint, opening with an original poem and moving into their stories, which progressively got more and more intense. Near the end of the book the stories began to intertwine, and some of the characters interacted with one another. Oddly enough, there is a semi-happy conclusion to the teens’ predicaments.
There is an author’s note at the end of the book giving information about teen prostitution and a helpful organization.

I recommend this book for upper high school students and public libraries.