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Tilt

Review

Tilt

While I have heard of Ellen Hopkins’ novel CRANK, this was the first of her books I read. I was surprised by the poetry format and feared that there would be no narrative. I was wrong. The stories of three teens flow seamlessly from poem to poem. Each character has their own sections narrated in first person. The poetry format helps to convey the alienating and overwhelming emotions the teens feel. My favorite poems were the black pages where the reader gets a small poem told from the point of view of a character who is not one of the three protagonists. Hopkins arranges the form of these poems so there are actually two contained in one. You might have to see it for yourself to understand what I mean.

"I would not call this light reading, but it is an important book. Hopkins creates deeply troubled characters, who I wish I could reach in and help out. My worry for them propelled me through the pages."

Hopkins is without doubt a great poet. She successfully conveys the emotions of three very different characters. The reader even gets to know the adults through the dialogue. I empathized with every character, except for one. They all seemed so real and I could identify with almost all of them. The book is very tragic, and while the end had some loose strings, I still closed the book with a sense that all of the characters would be alright.

As a twenty-something, my teen years are not too far behind me. Hopkins all too easily transported me back to the angst, self-consciousness, and fear I felt at that time. I also couldn’t help but think, Teenagers are supposed to read this? But the issues in the book are real problems that real teens face. Maybe these issues wouldn’t be so bad if everyone were as honest about them as Hopkins is. The teens face HIV; teenage pregnancy; underage sex, drinking, and drugging; chronic illness; alcoholic parents; and a lack of tools to deal with it all. Their struggle is not unique to fiction and the author’s note pronounces Hopkins’ hope to make a difference in the lives of teen readers. If I had read this book when I was 16, I would have been disturbed and I might have made different choices.

The only problem I came across was keeping track of all of the adults. Since the narrators refer to them as “Mom” and “Dad,” when their actual names appeared, I had trouble keeping them straight. Hopkins based the teens in this book off of characters in TRIANGLES, an adult novel --- perhaps it would have been easier to organize them in my head if I had read TRIANGLES first.

I would not call this light reading, but it is an important book. Hopkins creates deeply troubled characters, who I wish I could reach in and help out. My worry for them propelled me through the pages.

Reviewed by Kim Naples on September 26, 2012

Tilt
by Ellen Hopkins

  • Publication Date: September 11, 2012
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • ISBN-10: 1416983309
  • ISBN-13: 9781416983309