It is not often that I am compelled to sit down and immediately write a book review. More often than not, I lament the lack of time and vow to write it “soon.” After all, I am a full-time working mother who has many other responsibilities at both home and work. When I finished this book last night, though, it pained me to leave the book review until this morning. I wanted to shout from the rooftops that Ellen Hopkins’ fans HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!
On page one, Hope walks in on her sister holding a shotgun — getting ready to commit suicide. Hope has no idea why Lizzie is trying to kill herself, but she manages to keep her from pulling the trigger. As the story progresses, we learn more about the awful situation that has left Lizzie feeling that suicide is her only chance for escape. Their father is dead and their mother is a prostitute who shows no affection for her children. It’s clear, nevertheless, that there’s something even more going on here. It must be something very sinister if it causes Lizzie to cry all night and to try and take her own life, but Hope cannot imagine what it could be.
Readers are likely to guess the disturbing secret before Hope figures it out, but that does not detract from the story (although I think it makes the dawning comprehension all the more difficult to read). This was definitely what I refer to as a “train wreck” of a book. While it broke my heart to read Hope and Lizzie’s story, especially knowing that some children actually live in such terrible situations, I had to know what happened. I could not look away because I HAD to find out how Hope reacted when she learned the truth about what happened to Lizzie and I desperately hoped to find out if there was a hopeful ending for both sisters.
I think the novel in verse format made it much easier to read this book, and while there was obviously no way for this book to have a “shiny, happy” ending, I was satisfied with the story’s resolution.