Burned is a riveting and emotional book by Ellen Hopkins.
It all started with just one dream. It wasn’t anything exceptional, just a typical fantasy about a boy, the kind that most teen girls would experience. But Pattyn Von Stratten isn’t like most teen girls. She’s a part of a religious – yet abusive – family and while a simple dream might not exactly be a sin, it could be the first step towards, in her and her family’s view, eternal damnation.
The dream is the first step for Pattyn, and she has to ask herself if it’s one to hell or to a better life. Pattyn begins to question things – God, a woman’s role, sex, and love in particular. It’s with a boy that Pattyn gets into real trouble. When Pattyn’s father catches them in a compromising position, things begin to spiral out of control until Pattyn is suspended from school and sent to live with an aunt she doesn’t know.
In the wilds of rural Nevada, Pattyn is expected to find salvation and redemption. Yet she finds something very different. When she meets Ethan, she realises that this exile could show her love and acceptance instead. It’s the first time that she’s felt worthy of both, but she finds that her old demons aren’t ready to let go of her. Pattyn’s decisions will lead her to a hell – not the hell that she learned about in her religious meetings, but a hell all the same.
Like all the other books I’ve read by Ellen Hopkins, I really loved reading this one. This would now be my fourth – maybe? – book by her and I really love her style of writing. If you somehow haven’t heard of Ellen Hopkins, she writes her books in the form of free verse poetry. Her writing is both beautiful and raw and I enjoy every page. The words are also set out really nicely on the page so it’s also great to look at. Her books always flow beautifully and the pacing is perfect. It’s hard to say which of her books I like best because they’re all slightly different with different themes, but they’re all a bit similar in the way that they deal with big issues that a lot of authors would shy away from. One of the things I like most about Ellen Hopkins is the fact that she isn’t one of those authors that shy away from specific topics. She in fact deals with them head on and maybe it’s her writing, but everything feels so raw and so powerful and it would be hard to sugarcoat things in the precise and concise writing style she has.
One of the things I loved most about this book was how emotional it made me feel. I love being emotionally attached to the storyline and the characters, and that was definitely the case in this book. The plot was one of the things that was most heartbreaking about this book. Burned, put simply, is a book about a girl from a Mormon family who is affected by an abusive father and has conflicting beliefs about what her religion wants for her and what kind of life she wants for herself. Pattyn is our main character and she goes on a journey of discovering who she really wants to be. She decides that she doesn’t want to be ruled by her family or her religion and she wants to decide what she wants for her own life. I loved going on that journey with her – both heartbreaking and inspiring – and I loved getting to know her as well as I did.
There’s not much that I know about Mormons or the Mormon community and although I’ve heard that a few people think that this book could be misrepresenting this group of people, I really think that it doesn’t matter than it was a Mormon community. It could have been any close-knit community and the effect would have been the same. The point is that if these kind of things can happen in a community like this, it could happen in any community. I’m sure that terrible and devastating things like this do happen and it’s heartbreaking to realise that this would be the shocking reality for a lot of people. Abuse must happen in a lot of cultures and this book really made me realise that a lot of people don’t say anything. Like Pattyn said, it’s not just the fear, it’s the shame that comes with that abuse.
I really liked the philosophical and religious questions posed in this book. Like a lot of Ellen’s book, this book really made me think. This book asked the question of whether there was any higher being, which is definitely a question that a lot of people ask themselves sometime during their life. Another thing I loved about this book was getting to know Ethan. Ethan is a farm boy and lives close to Pattyn’s aunt’s farm. Ethan treated Pattyn the way she deserved to be treated and that was really great to see. He treated her with love and respect and really cared about her. It was lovely to see that everyone, no matter what you look like or what type of lifestyle you have, you can always find that one person who will light up your life like no one else can. For Pattyn, Ethan was this person. I loved watching their relationship grow and their ending was devastating, but that didn’t mean I liked it any less. I think that it taught me to make the most of the time you have with those you love, because you never know what could happen and some things you just can’t do anything about. There are things in life you can’t control and you just have to make the most of what you have and live to the fullest.
This book can really be depressing in parts. Like all of Ellen’s books, Burned is deep. Her books are definitely not for everyone and I think you should only read these books if you think you can handle them. This book had be staring at a blank wall for a good fifteen minutes after finishing it just because I was filled with so many emotions and I didn’t want the book to be over. I’ll definitely have to read the next book to find out what happened. I’d give Burned by Ellen Hopkins a score of 9 out of 10. If you like reading books by Ellen Hopkins or if you’re looking for something new to try, I definitely recommend this book!
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!