Monday, March 3, 2014



by Ellen Hopkins


Pattyn Von Stratten's father is dead, and Pattyn is on the run. After far too many years of abuse at the hands of her father, and after the tragic loss of her beloved Ethan and their unborn child, Pattyn is desperate for peace. Only her sister Jackie knows what happened that night, but she is stuck at home with their mother, who clings to normalcy by allowing the truth to be covered up by their domineering community leaders. Her father might be finally gone, but without Pattyn, Jackie is desperately isolated.

Alone and in disguise, Pattyn starts a new life as a migrant worker on a California ranch. But is it even possible to rebuild a life when everything you've known has burned to ash and lies seem far safer than the truth?

Bestselling author Ellen Hopkins continues the riveting story of Pattyn Von Stratten she began in Burned to explore what it takes to rise from the ashes, put ghosts to rest, and step into a future.

My thoughts:

I believe that Ellen Hopkins, Burned, did not need a sequel because of the way that it ended with Pattyn Von Stratten standing on the edge of a bridge contemplating suicide. It let the reader imagine the best or the worst for poor Pattyn. In Smoke, Hopkins writes from the point of view of both Pattyn and the second oldest Von Stratten sister, Jackie. This is effective, but not nearly as effective as in Burned when she writes from just Pattyn’s point of view. Smoke does show a different side of Pattyn than in Burned though. In Burned, Pattyn has people to turn to and still has fears in her life. In Smoke, Pattyn seems more vulnerable and is easier to connect to. For example, at the beginning of the book when Pattyn has to re-live and regret the murder of her Father and the tragic loss of Ethan, hits a real nerve. Towards the end of the book when I finally started to see Pattyn beginning to move on and start her new future, I finally felt at peace. As she lets go of her past and stops regretting her choices I can finally be happy for Pattyn. The character that Ellen Hopkins has created is a true inspiration for anyone who has ever had to deal with loss in their life or abuse. Overall, by the end of the book I was happy that Hopkins decided to write a sequel for Pattyn. Although I didn’t care too much about Jackie’s side of the story it helped me understand Pattyn better and added to the story. If you have read any of Ellen Hopkins books and enjoyed them, I recommend Smoke, it is a great ending to Pattyn Von Stratten’s story.

“The Truth
Is a product of perception.
One person’s mountain
is another’s hill. Your river
is someone else’s creek.
In the end, it doesn’t matter.
A lie
is different. Oh, you might
claim a small white one is
really a positive, but a lie,
no matter where it falls
in the spectrum,
gently. Relentlessly.
Confess it, you’ll regret
the pain it causes.
But choose to keep
it a secret, and the longer
do, the deeper it gnaws,
through skin and flesh,
sinew and bone, all the way
to your heart. And there
you’ll carry it always” (Hopkins, 166)

reviewed by C. H., Grade 10 Scona student

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