Thursday, April 19, 2007


Hopkins, Ellen. 2007. Impulse.

Impulse is not particularly the kind of book you want to pick up (or post about) the week of the Virginia Tech Massacre. Like all of Ellen Hopkins books its theme is dark and depressing. That is not to say it isn’t honest and authentic. Impulse has this honest feel about it. These are characters that feel real. The pain they’re describing, they’re living, feels authentic. It feels genuine. The secrets, the lies, the hopes, the fears, the worries, the stress, everything. It is the story (fictional) of three teens who have attempted suicide. Two boys and one girl. They, all three, find themselves at Aspen Springs a mental institution for juveniles. Each teen has a story. Each teen has a journey. One tried to overdose on drugs. One tried to shoot himself. One slit her wrist. All have obstacles to overcome. All have secrets. All have quirks. Tony. Vanessa. Conner. Three teens who are walking the same self-destructive path. Can they find help in time? Can their lives be changed? Can there be hope where formerly there was none? Can broken lives find healing? It is a harsh story. Hopkins doesn’t hide the hard, bitter, dark pain of suicidal thoughts. But amidst all the pain and suffering, redemption may be just within reach.

Hopkins writing is once again powerful. Not every reader will want to journey down this dark tunnel with these three characters. Even if there is light shining at the end of the tunnel. For readers in search of "problem novels" or "edgy novels" or novels about suicide, cutting, drugs, or dysfunctional families in general, this book may be a perfect fit. It is a powerful, authentic verse novel.


I can't remember
when it has snowed
so much, yards
and yards of lacy ribbons,
wrapping the world in white.
Was it three years ago? Ten?

Memory is a tenuous thing,
like a rainbow's end
or a camera with a failing lens.
Sometimes my focus
is sharp, every detail
clear as the splashes
of ice, fringing the eaves;
other times it is a hazy
field of frost, like the meadow
outside my window.
I think it might be a meadow.
A lawn? A parking lot?

Is it even a window
I'm looking through,
or only cloudy panes
of vision, opening
on drifts of ivory
linens--soft cotton,
crisp percale--
my snow just
a blizzard of white

From IMPULSE by Ellen Hopkins, p. 17-18

Readers may also enjoy It's Kind of A Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon, and Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson. I haven't read Twisted yet, but based on what reviews I have seems like this would be a good match.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm, your review puts me in the thoughts that I would need to be "in the mood" for something this dark and intense. Thank you for the good review!

Anonymous said...

I thought Impluse was an amazing, I repeat, amazing book. I feel in love with all of the characters and cried at the end. I'll definatly be deading more of Ellen's books.

Anonymous said...

This book was intense. It makes you think why. Thats the reason i bought the book.

Anonymous said...

I thought the book was very differnt, like all her others. differnt but amazing. i loved it. great review.