Ellen Hopkins writes mostly young adult novels dealing with tough subject matters. She tells these stories through poetry, which ensures no word is wasted on the page. Hopkins’ books combine fiction and poetry, which are two genres that aren’t often put together. This makes her books stand out. Her books are beautifully written, even though the subject matter is often anything but beautiful. Whether you are interested in reading these books or writing YA yourself, here is a list of five books to get you started:

Impulse is about three teenagers who have tried to commit suicide, and this book shows their recovery process as well as what led them to the decision that suicide was their only option. This novel shows three teens from very different backgrounds who have all hit rock bottom, and it shows them bond together as they work through their problems and form relationships with each other.

While the novel is mostly about the characters getting better both physical but especially emotionally one of the characters actually ends up getting worse by the end with being unable to find a way to move past the issues that led to the original suicide attempt in the first place.

Perfect is a companion novel to Impulse and it deals with four teens trying to live up to the impossible ideal of perfection. This novel is one that deals with what the concept of being perfect means to each of the characters and it shows how much a character is willing to do to achieve their version of perfection.

By the end of this novel some of the characters have figured out that being perfect is impossible and that trying to achieve happiness is a better way to live their life but then there are other characters who leave the novel still believing being unable to let go of the impossible ideal and are willing to destroy themselves in order to achieve that ideal.

Tricks is a novel about five teens who end up in situations in which they are forced to sell themselves in order to survive. These five stories are only very loosely connected, and for the most part these five stories don’t overlap with each other. They all just seem to deal with the same type of subject matter.

The five characters all come from very different backgrounds, and even the way in which they end up having to sell themselves is very different but despite all these differences in their stories they all seem to fit well together in this novel. All five of the characters stories work so well together because all of the characters are different people and from different backgrounds but they all end up in the same situation which shows how easy it is to get mixed up with something like this.

Identical is about two identical twin girls coping with their dysfunctional home life in two very different but equally destructive ways. The focus in this story is on the girl’s family and the coping methods that girls have for dealing with their parents. Since the girls are so different when it comes to their opinion about their parents, you are able to see both the good and the bad in both of them even when you’d rather just see the bad.

Tilt is about the lives of three teenagers whose lives are only loosely connected dealing with very different things. Mikayla spends all of her time trying to please her boyfriend; Harley is trying to grow up way too fast; and Shane who ends up dealing with a crisis of faith and a lot of grief.

For more about Ellen Hopkins, visit her “For Students” page, where she’s kindly taken the time to answer a lot of questions aspiring writers may have including:

Q: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

A: Pretty much from the first time I realized the power of “story.” So I guess I was in high school when I decided that, though I did take a wide life detour that finally brought me back to my dream of writing as a career in my thirties. Keep striving for those dreams! They don’t always come easily or right away.


Meet the blogger:
ALLIE FOGELBERG is a student at Hamline University who is studying creative writing with a focus in fiction. She is an aspiring writer of young adult literature. 

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