At ALA Annual last weekend, I met Ellen Hopkins(!!) when she was signing for Simon and Schuster. I first discovered Hopkins’ work in 2010, around the time of the incident in Humble, Texas when Hopkins’ invitation to speak at a literature festival was rescinded after a complaint about the content of her books. I am not one to gush, but Ellen Hopkins is an Amazing writer. Her novels in verse are unflinchingly honest, tackling important contemporary issues. No, her books aren’t for everyone. They’re gritty and raw and offer hopeful, not happy, endings, but anyone who works with teens or is parenting a teen should be aware of her work. Standouts are Crank and Perfect, though all of her YA books are great.
I did not know that last year Hopkins published an adult novel, Triangles (newly available in paperback). I just finished reading it and was blown away. Did I say already that Hopkins is an Amazing writer? I don’t make recommendations often and I know that many people prefer light reading. Triangles is intense but perhaps the style—poetic verse, as all of Hopkins’ books are written—prevents the novel from feeling too heavy. Some of my friends have been discussing 50 Shades of Grey recently (a book that doesn’t interest me in the least) and they may enjoy Triangles.
The story opens at the beginning of a desert summer in a Nevada suburb. Holly, bored mom of three, decides she wants to write erotica and justifies extramarital sex as “research.” Andrea, Holly’s best friend, is a devoted single mom searching for a meaningful relationship with a man. Marissa, Andrea’s sister, copes with both her daughter’s and her marriage’s terminal illness. While the plot and characters may be a bit Desperate Housewives and perhaps less entertaining , the poetry of Triangles shows Hopkins at her best—beautiful language that gracefully handles sensitive issues without judgment. Let me know if you read it; I’d love to hear your thoughts.