Ellen Hopkins writes very uniquely formatted YA novels, some of which read like poetry, some of which read like the shards of the broken lives that she’s describing. Her writing is intense, almost uncomfortably so, and I think that that’s how writing should be. She conveys emotion and sets up the tone for novels that truly stand out from her peers. Hopkins is in no way my favorite author, but she definitely stood out when I was looking for my first author spotlight candidate.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t read one of Hopkins’s novels in several years, but they still stuck out in my mind. I haven’t read all of her work, I remember reading Crank (deals with meth addiction) in middle or high school, and I recall being devastated by Identical (deals with molestation/sexual abuse) and enjoying Burned (deals with religion) around the same time. A few other titles she’s well known for are Glass (sequel to Crank), Impulse (dealing with mental illness/hospitalization), and Tricks (dealing with sex-work/prostitution). Fallout (third book in the Crank trilogy) and Perfect (deals with the concept of perfection/coming of age) are two newer novels she’s written that I haven’t seen much about, likely due to being out of the YA scene for a while.
Image credit: EllenHopkins.com
You can visit Ellen Hopkins’s site for resources, she has categories for Teachers, Students, and Writers. On her site you’ll also find info on appearances that she’ll be making, her poetry, videos, and brief descriptions of her books.
I chose to feature Hopkins because of her subject matter combined with her frequent use of young women as protagonists. Hopkins doesn’t write uber inspirational stories, they are often very gritty and otherwise hard to stomach, and they bring attention to issues that some parents or teachers feel uncomfortable discussing. As a reader you can definitely see that the subject matter alone is very socially-charged, and in many ways feminist. With a heightened look at the intersectional issues, we see Hopkins address privilege, religious background, mental illness, abuse, sex work and other feminist issues in a way that doesn’t bombard younger readers with too much sociological information at once.
Links to buy Hopkins’s books can be found on her website, online bookstores, and Amazon (as follows).