Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Release date: August 25, 2009
Five teenagers from different parts of the country. Three girls. Two guys. Four straight. One gay. Some rich. Some poor. Some from great families. Some with no one at all. All living their lives as best they can, but all searching...for freedom, safety, community, family, love. What they don't expect, though, is all that can happen when those powerful little words "I love you" are said for all the wrong reasons.
Five moving stories remain separate at first, then interweave to tell a larger, powerful story -- a story about making choices, taking leaps of faith, falling down, and growing up. A story about kids figuring out what sex and love are all about, at all costs, while asking themselves, "Can I ever feel okay about myself?"
I am a huge Ellen Hopkins fan. I have devoured all of her previous novels, but for some reason Tricks has been sitting on my TBR shelf for quite some time. I picked it up on a whim a few days ago and I am so glad I did.
This was an intense, emotional read that had me drawn in from the first page. I have never read anything about prostitution, espeically in YA, so was definitely wondering how Hopkins would present it. She created characters that readers could understand. While I obviously do not think they made the right decisions, they had problems in their lives that led them to make this horrible choice. There were five narrators, each who fell into prostitution for different reasons, and in different ways. I'm ashamed to say I actually always thought of prostitution as just people selling themselves on street corners. It's so much more than that, and Ellen presented it in so many ways. It is a dangerous, disgusting, and heartbreaking experience, and I was always hoping the characters would stop before they dug themselves into an impossible hole.
I can't even imagine that teenagers are getting involved with prostitution today. The characters in Tricks were not just selling themselves for profit, this was survival to them. The verse writing really made this story so much more emotional and the poems that began each narration added a lot to each character.
This was a graphic, horrifying, eye-opening read that will remain in your head for a long time. I applaud Ellen Hopkins for tackling such a unique, unknown issue and sharing it with the world. In the end, I cannot put into words my feelings on this book, but I definitely recommend picking up a copy. This is not for young readers though!
Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars