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SMOKE by Ellen Hopkins

SMOKE

By Ellen Hopkins

Age Range: 13 - 17

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4169-8328-6
Publisher: McElderry

Two sisters wrestle with guilt and fear after one kills the father who battered them.

Readers last saw 17-year-old Pattyn at the cliffhanger ending of Burned (2006), immediately after her beloved boyfriend and their unborn baby were killed in a car wreck. Stunned with grief and fury, and with nothing left to lose, Pattyn vowed to shoot her long-abusive father, whom she blamed for the accident. This much-desired sequel begins two weeks later—and Dad’s dead. Escaping town, Pattyn meets a warm, welcoming family of mostly undocumented farm laborers. They find her a ranch job, where she hides from law enforcement. Meanwhile, 15-year-old Jackie is stuck at home, narrating her own half of the story. Through free-verse poems thick with the weight of trauma, the shooting’s details emerge. A schoolmate raped Jackie; blaming Jackie, Dad broke her ribs and loosened her teeth; Pattyn’s gun stopped Dad forever. Now Pattyn faces “blood-caked nightmares,” while Jackie fights a mother and two LDS church leaders who insist she forget her rape. Waiting for the past to “tackle [them] from behind,” both girls struggle toward fragile new connections and inner strength. The lives of undocumented Americans, a renegade hate movement and a wild horse wary of trust are all organic to the plot.

A strong, painful and tender piece about wresting hope from the depths of despair. (author’s note) (Verse fiction. 13-17)