Author: Ellen Hopkins
Ellen Hopkins needs no introduction. She is one of our foremost writers of young adult poetic fiction today. She is controversial; she is exciting; she is frightening; she is not one to refrain from pulling any punches in her teenager’s gone wrong series of books.
TILT compels. Written in a glorious language concoction of poem/stream-of-consciousness/dialogue narrative, Hopkins creates symmetry of language laid against bricks of stark action and sharp emotion and despair. Three teenage narrators speak, and the closing lines of their poem/narrations lead into single page poems from other key characters in the narration, forming cohesion of the chaos the characters experience. The stories are brutal, stark, honest, painful, uncomfortable and achingly authentic.
TILT explores the lives of the three teenagers living in the shadow of her adults in her novel Triangles. As these pairs of parents make bad choices, experience tragic circumstances, with difficult childhoods causing blatant deceit to their families and friends, their teenage children whirl around the realities of having no one to turn to for guidance. Shane is gay and his first lover is HIV positive. Shane’s 4 year old sister is dying and there is no one around for him – his parents are falling apart. Harley chooses an abusive boyfriend because she is lonely and scared. Harley’s mom is totally unavailable within her own crisis. Mikayla is seventeen, in love, and finds herself pregnant and her boyfriend abandons her. Her parents too are within their own midlife crisis. The peripheral characters, Shane’s lover, Alex, Brianna, who tries to keep things even, Dylan, who is Mikayla’s boyfriend, are just as confused as the three main characters. Everything tilts on its axis, as the three teenagers try to discover who they are in situations of crisis.
A tough decision, Hopkin’s poetry beautifully encloses hard truths about our culture and our failings as parents, while holding compassion for all. Hopkins does not lay blame; she outlines the hell that surrounds teenagers who are literally on their own with problems they have no experience to handle.
Beautifully wrought, anguishing and heartfelt, Hopkins does not mince in the sexual problems that teenagers face. Nor does she mince with the infidelity, hate and horror of parents who are so wounded they cannot or will not face their children’s’ anguish. There is hope however, for as the parents surround themselves with chaos, some learn that they deeply love their children.
Controversial? Yes. To read? Absolutely. For I remember every single line when I was sixteen and had no idea where to go when my parents were totally absent from my world. TILT brought it back, brought me back, to those emotions and situations that I could not handle. I had doubts about giving this book to my teenage granddaughter when I first started reading it. At the end of the book, I called her and asked her if she wanted to read it. She told me she had read every book of Ellen Hopkins and could not wait to read this one. She evidently is smarter than I was at her age.
Tough read. Tough content. Don’t run away from it. Our teenagers need to be heard.
Tilt is available at bookstores NOW.
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Review by Broad “A” – Ava
We received a copy of this title for our book review. All opinions are our own.