Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Review: Tricks ~ Ellen Hopkins

Title: Tricks
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Pub. Date: August 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Format: Hardcover, 640pp
Age Range: Young Adult
Source: Simon & Schuster


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

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?"


Tricks emotionally siphoned me beyond the point of sheer exhaustion. Once again, Hopkins delivers the goods by fearlessly seizing a tenebrous societal problem. Hopkins doesn't just illuminate the sabulous side of teen prostitution, she amplifies, humanizes & intensifies like the beacon of brilliance emanating from the Great White Way!

Tricks is a disturbingly heartbreaking novel that showcases just why Hopkins is the sovereign virtuoso when it comes to navigating the literary sphere.

is not a sugarcoated attempt @ addressing the increasingly current trend of teenagers coerced into selling themselves to survive. Tricks accurately illustrates the downward spiral of teens in the prostitution or "escort" service realm of sex for money.

I was repulsed to the point of retching not only when I was reading but when images of this electrically charged novel circumnavigated my brain when all I wanted was for the visions to circumvent. My skin crawled, my heart ached, my soul perished, and my spirit was shattered.

No matter how much Philosophy Gingerbread Man hot salt scrub I used, I still felt dirty. I just couldn't shake the grime seared into my very core. I was battered, bruised, broken & all I wanted was to be smothered in love & ensconced in the tenderness of a family just like Ellen's beautifully scribed lost souls.

Hopkins brought me beyond tears, I was raw inside & raging w/ a spectrum of emotions. I just wanted to hug Cody, Eden, Ginger, Seth, and Whitney. I wanted them to know I cared, I wanted to tell them I loved them & everything would be OK!

I am as far removed from the damaged, lost souls living a life of turning tricks & searching for what many take for granted but I understood their execrable actions.

Tricks left me spirtually bankrupt & it all is because Ellen knows how to penetrate the nucleus of human nature.

Tricks did not kick off like a house afire, it took time to simmer as Hopkins excavated the incomparable cast. The character development is unparalleled. Ellen's reprehensible prelude to the demoralizing pilgrimage these dispirited teens endured left me immersed in their orbit... struggling to get out w/a modicum of self-worth.

Tricks is written in Ellen's trademark verse writing. Ellen's striking poetry is seductive.

While I do understand the subject matter in Tricks may not be for everyone, it is definitely not to be missed. We can't continue to bury our heads in the sand & pretend this isn't happening in our neighborhoods. Yes, it is happening, in your town, on your block & it may be going on in your own home!

Grab a copy of Tricks:





Simon & Schuster

Check out Ellen's website

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for the review copy. Thank you, Nicole, most of all!


  1. I like the cover, too, and the book looks really nice. Ellen Hopkins is awesome.