Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis: [from back cover]
Raised in a religious -- yet abusive -- family, Pattyn Von Stratten starts asking questions -- about God, a woman's role, sex, love. She experiences the first stirrings of passion, but when her father catches her in a compromising position, events spiral out of control. Pattyn is sent to live with an aunt in the wilds of Nevada to find salvation and redemption. What she finds instead is love and acceptance -- until she realizes that her old demons will not let her go.
This was my first book by Ellen Hopkins. I've heard really good things about her and her books but I really wasn't prepared to like it as much as I did. I definitely think it was the poetry-like writing style. It didn't necessarily rhyme but is written in stanzas and verses. Some of the verses are even written in shapes that really added a little extra to what was being talked about. I found myself breezing through the 500+ pages and despite this new style, I was immersed in Pattyn's life.
Burned tells the story of Pattyn Scarlet Von Stratten. A young mormon girl who is rebellious by nature - but not in the negative sense. She questions everything from the way women are treated by the Church and their husbands, from sex and her morals, to just life in general. Growing up in a very religious way doesn't seem to matter since her home life is abusive. I couldn't really tell you who I thought was worse, Pattyn's mother or her alcoholic father. Her mother is continuously abused by Pattyn's father, but the way she acts and treats her own children may just be as bad.
I was immediately drawn to her character. It all started with a dream. Just a teenage dream about a boy she desperately wants to know. But she was brought up not to fantasize this way. And then a different boy steps into her life, and the dream boy is quickly replaced. After some trouble with this newly discovered boy Pattyn gets in more trouble in school and her family has had enough. They send her away for the summer to stay with her aunt Jeanette, in the middle of nowhere.
Aunt Jeanette was an easy character to care about as she slowly reveals what it was like growing up with Pattyn's father. She was under strict Mormon rules as well and has long since abandoned the Church. It is on her ranch that Pattyn finds love, acceptance, and peace. But the ending will totally squeeze your heart!!
I wrote down a part I found in the book that I felt was really worth sharing. I think it opens up a big opportunity for discussion. I have been in depressive ruts before and I have definitely felt this way many times (especially recently *sigh*), maybe that's why it grabbed my attention:
"Happiness, you see, is just an illusion of fate, a heavenly slight of hand designed to make you believe in fairy tales. But there's no happily even after. You'll only find happy ending in books. Some books." (p.420)
I highly recommend this book whether you have read Ellen Hopkins or not. I will definitely pick up another, and probably all, of Ms. Hopkin's books!