Tricks – book review

Tricks by Ellen Hopkins

Tricks is a heartbreaking and emotional book, written by Ellen Hopkins.

Five teenagers from all across American with seemingly different lives are all searching for similar things – freedom, safety, community, family, love. But what these people don’t expect is that the three little words ‘I love you’ can be said for all the wrong reasons.

These five moving stories remain separate at first, and then intertwine to tell a larger, more powerful story – one of making choices, taking leaps of faith, falling down, and growing up all the while asking, ‘Can I ever feel okay about myself?’


Like all the other books I’ve read by Ellen Hopkins, I really enjoyed reading Tricks. If you’ve heard of Ellen Hopkins or if you’ve read any of her books, you’ll know that each of her books tackles big problems in the form of free-verse poetry. This book was no exception. Tricks is a book about teenage prostitution – and there’s no sugar coating it. This book faces issues head on and because it’s written in such a way that there’s only about fifteen or so words on each page, meaning there’s no room for putting things lightly. It was definitely a really interesting books and I’m very happy I read it because I really didn’t know much about this topic.

When I first started reading this book, I got a little confused to which character was talking. Because this book revolves around the lives of five characters, I initially felt as though each character’s chapter was too short and that I wasn’t getting enough of an idea as to what they were like and what there situation was. I felt as though there were too many switches and that meant I didn’t get enough time to understand all the characters. As the book progressed, I slowly got more of an idea as to what was going on with each person and I liked getting to know them better.

This book did feel a little short and a bit rushed in some places. Some of the decision-making that should have taken a while happened in a matter of pages and some of the character developments felt too quick. By the time I really got to understand the characters, I would have been one third of the way into the book. This book would really have benefitted from having more space for each of the characters in the chapters. Perhaps even if there were three or four characters, not five. I felt like I would have really understood the people more if I spent more time with each of them. Nevertheless, I found the lives of the characters really interesting once they hit ‘rock bottom’, so to speak. Before that, the book was a little dull, but I understood we needed some background to really care about these people.

This book is both intriguing and heartbreaking, and the more I read, the more devastating it became. It’s really a jolt into reality, because I think this is an issue that is hardly spoken about. I didn’t even know that much about it before reading this book. I feel as though the issues that Ellen Hopkin’s tackles are really important things to read about because they’re often not really discusses in this way. Ellen really doesn’t hold back, and that meant I had tears in my eyes on quite a number of occasions. The characters that I didn’t really feel anything for initially became people I cried over in the end, because no matter how much I didn’t like them, no person should ever have to suffer the fates that these people did. My heart just broke to them to see them have to resort to the things that they did.

This book isn’t an easy book to read it’s intense and emotional, but I do think that everyone should read it. This wasn’t my favourite book by Ellen Hopkins, but I still really enjoyed it and it’s definitely worth your time if you’re interested in reading about topics that are generally not discussed or written about. I’d give Tricks by Ellen Hopkins a score of 8 out of 10. If you’ve read any books by Ellen Hopkins, let me know what you thought of them. Do you like her writing style? Which book is your favourite? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!