Sunday, May 1, 2011

Burned, by Ellen Hopkins

BurnedPattyn was raised in a highly religious family, full of hidden abuse and dysfunction.  When she begins to act out at school, and rendevouz with a boy, her father puts his foot down.  Unable to control her, he sends Pattyn to spend time with her aunt.  Little did he realize he was handing her the keys to freedom, and her future.  She falls in love, and when it is time to return to her family's home, she carries her secret love home with her.  However, her secret may come out in the open.

Once again, Hopkins delivers a powerful young adult novel in verse form.  This time, themes include religious intolerance, female repression, abuse, and sexuality.  I really loved the character of Pattyn, and my heart ached for her, knowing what her family life was like.  I think many kids grow up in abusing households, thinking they cannot trust or relate to anyone else.  This book helps them see that they are not alone.

While I am not terribly informed about the Mormon church, the book does not exactly paint the church in a positive light.  I can imagine some readers will dislike this aspect of the book, particularly those who are members of the Mormon church.  However, some may see a lot of realism in the way the church reacts to the abuse the family is obviously enduring.  It is no secret that many churches in many denominations react this way.

Moreso than with any of the previous Hopkins books I have read, the verse form did not stand out to me as much.  That is not to say that the verse form was bad, merely that the story overtook the writing style.  I forgot that what I was reading was poetry, simply because it was so powerful.

All in all, another fantastic young adult book, most appropriate for older high school readers.

This book is from my personal library.

1 comment:

  1. I'm very familiar with the LDS church and I have to say that I was terribly disappointed by the way Hopkins handled that aspect of this book.

    I've known (and know) a lot of members of this church and I can tell you that this is NOT what the church stands for, or is all about. Every religion has it's extremists, but the religion as a whole is vastly different from this family. And I can tell you honestly right now that if any of the leaders of the church were told by a daughter of a father who mistreats his family like that, they WOULD do something about it. They WOULD listen.

    I do not like reading books that are poorly researched. And this one was. If this had been my first Hopkins, it would probably also have been my last. She's a brilliant writer, but I don't like reading books that haven't been researched well.

    I felt that the same message could have been portrayed by making them a highly religious family without naming a denomination.