Monday, June 29, 2009

TRICKS by Ellen Hopkins


Eden, Ginger, Cody, Seth, and Whitney are teens whose life circumstances have taken them to an increasingly common yet horrible place. Simple survival is their motivation for selling sex for money.

Eden never thought about sex. Raised by a fire and brimstone father and mother meant hours in a church pew not on dates and at parties. Meeting Andrew changed her life. He was just as innocent as she was so the two learned about love together. It was real and special until her parents found out. She was sent away to a terrible place, and she did what she had to to escape.

Ginger's life was always filled with sex. Her mother had six kids by five different guys, and her attempt to keep food on the table involved any man looking for what she was willing to sell. Thank goodness for a grandmother willing to take them in and do what she could to provide for them. Ginger vowed to be different, but when her mother began to use her for profit, it was time to leave. But making a change from what you've always known is not as easy as it seems.

Life for Cody and his brother Cory improved when their mother married Jack. Jack was great at filling the role of dad, and Cody appreciated it. Cory may have been rebelling, but Cody did his best to be a responsible son and step-son. Then cancer struck and Jack was gone. Things got crazy when there wasn't enough money. Gambling might provide the answer, but he needed a supply of cash to make money that way forcing him in directions he knew were dangerous.

Seth and his dad survived the death of a mother and wife. Their simple Indiana farm life continued on without her, however, that simple life didn't welcome the fact that Seth had known for quite some time that he was gay. He actually lived two separate lives - the farm life his father assumed he would continue and the new life he had found in Louisville. As long as he could keep the two lives apart, he could make everyone happy. When a letter caused the two to collide, Seth learned that his father could not accept the truth so he was forced to leave. A man named Carl made an offer Seth couldn't refuse, but so often those offers don't last forever.

Whitney is popular and beautiful. She is used to having the things she wants but not always the attention she desires. Her doting father is gone a lot on business which leaves her with a busy mother whose focus has always been on her older daughter. Hooking up with a popular guy gives Whitney a reason to carry on, but when that relationship ends, she is left with anger. That anger drives her in a rebellious direction that she will soon regret.

Ellen Hopkins takes her readers on yet another dangerous journey into lives that have gone wrong. The focus is on the increasingly current trend of teenagers forced into selling themselves to survive. Whether it is out and out prostitution or the thinly disguised "escort" services, more and more teens are involved in sex for money. The five young people in TRICKS all have very different reasons for getting caught up in this destructive lifestyle and Hopkins paints a stirring and vivid picture of each of their paths into this terrible world. TRICKS is hard-hitting and disturbingly direct as it details the downward spiral of five lives. Fans of Ellen Hopkins are no doubt anxiously awaiting this new release. One word of caution from this reviewer is that this direct approach to a serious subject is best suited for older teens.

1 comment:

Lauren said...

I love Ellen Hopkins books and I hope this is no different from the others.