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IMPULSE by Ellen Hopkins


by Ellen Hopkins

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Jan. 23rd, 2007
ISBN: 1-4169-0356-9
Publisher: McElderry

In sharp, searing free verse divided into two-page chapters, Hopkins sketches three adolescents who have just attempted suicide. Vanessa (razors), Tony (drugs) and Conner (gun) tried to “close out / the ugliness, close / out the filthiness, / close out all light.” They begin treatment at Aspen Springs residential center in pits of numb despair, unhappy to have failed and lacking human connection. The therapists broach some psychological issues, but Aspen Springs is more behavioral than psychiatric, awarding levels of privilege for acts of progress. Each distinct first-person story slowly reveals its grim secrets, stinging from start to finish. The origins that the text identifies for Tony’s sexuality prevent his being a standard-bearer for gayness in literature, but the three main characterizations ring true. There’s a tiny place for love here, but readers familiar with Hopkins’ Burned (2006) or with signs of serious depression will anticipate the tragic ending. A fast, jagged, hypnotic read. (Fiction. YA)