Pattyn Von Stratten is not like most teen girls. Raised in a religious — yet abusive — family, a simple dream may not be exactly a sin, but it could be the first step toward hell and eternal damnation.
This dream is a first step for Pattyn. But it is to hell or to a better life? For the first time Pattyn starts asking questions. Questions seemingly without answers — about God, a woman’s role, sex, love — mostly love. What is is? Where is it? Will she ever experience it? Is she deserving of it?
It’s with a real boy that Patten gets into real trouble. After Pattyn’s father catches her in a compromising position, events spiral out of control until Pattyn ends up suspended from school and sent to live with an aunt she doesn’t know.
Another powerful book by Ellen Hopkins that will leave you breathless, Burned details one “good girl’s” fall from “God’s graces” to her own personal hell.
Burned is terrible and awful and downright upsetting, but it’s also down right amazing, not only because of the content because of the manner in which it’s written. While I think free verse worked for all of Hopkins’ books, except for Identical, Burned takes it up a notch and has an edge the others lack. Burned reads more like a diary instead of, such as in the case of Impulse, the characters recounting what happened, and you’re completely absorbed in Pattyn’s thoughts before you know it.
“Did you ever
When you were little,
endure your parents’ warnings, then wait
for them to leave the room,
pry loose protective covers
and consider inserting some metal
object into an electrical outlet?
Did you wonder if for once
you might light up the room?
When you were big enough
to cross the street on your own,
did you ever wait for a signal,
hear the frenzied approach
of a fire truck and feel like
stepping out in front of it?
Did you wonder just how far
that rocket ride might take you?
When you were almost grown,
did you ever sit in a bubble bath,
notice a blow dryer plugged
in within easy reach, and think
about dropping it into the water?
Did you wonder if the expected
rush might somehow fail you?
And now, do you ever dangle
your toes over the precipice,
dare the cliff to crumble,
defy the frozen deity to suffer
the sun, thaw feather and bone,
take wing to fly you home?” (pg. 1-2)
The ending is shocking — melodramatic, much? — but I’ve come to expect that Hopkins. But, in the case of Burned, there is no closure. You don’t know if Pattyn did it or not, whether or not she found the closure she needed, and I sincerely hope Hopkins plans to write a sequel to Burned, after all it’s probably my favorite novel by her. Read it. You won’t regret it.
- Hopkins, Ellen. Burned. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2006. Print. 532 pgs. ISBN: 9781416903543. Source: Library.