Published: McElderry, 2007Book: Burned by Ellen Hopkins
Genre: Young Adult
Buy It: Amazon
Summary (from Goodreads): Raised in a stern, abusive Mormon household, a teenage girl starts to question her religion and struggles to find her destiny.
Her father is abusive, her mother is submissive, and her church looks the other way. Confused and angry, Pattyn Von Stratten acts out and is sent to live with an aunt on a Nevada ranch. She finds the love and acceptance she craves, with disturbing consequences.
My thoughts: When Pattyn Von Straten begins to question her religion, she causes a stir in school and in the mormon community she grew up in. Her parents send her away to live with her aunt for the summer where Pattyn continues to question her beliefs. As she does so, she sheds her old self and becomes this new woman who can do anything she puts her mind to. The changes she goes through are mainly impart to her budding relationship with Ethan, the college boy she meets and falls in love with over the summer.
Burned is written entirely in prose, which annoyed me at first but by the end of the book I came to like the style. It made for a very quick read, despite the size of the book (over 500 pages). I've read a lot of young adult books dealing with abuse lately, not on purpose. It's been interesting to see the common themes of these novels and how each author approaches the subject. I really liked Pattyn because she was strong and not afraid to challenge authority. She asked the questions she was thinking about her religion, even when she knew the people she was asking would not be happy with her thoughts. When she moved in with her aunt for the summer, I was so happy for her that she was able to get away from her family who treated her so unfairly. She developed a close bond with her aunt who encouraged Pattyn to be the woman she wanted to be and not the woman her religion told her she had to be. When she met Ethan, she found a once in a lifetime kind of love and it seemed like he was going to save her. It took great courage for Pattyn to go back home when her parents decided she was needed again to take care of the new baby. She knew that her father was beating her younger sister and if she went back she would have to share the beating. After losing her virginity to Ethan over the summer, Pattyn's worst nightmare is confirmed- she is pregnant. Back at home, the problems with her parents were escalating. She had to make her escape or her father would kill Ethan and probably her as well if he found out about the baby, so they planned an escape.
As Burned wraps up, we realize Hopkins is probably not going to give us the happy ending we so hoped for Pattyn and Ethan. The cliffhanger ending actually got on my nerves. I felt like there were other options. She could have told her aunt about her dad. She would have done anything to help Pattyn. Instead, she and Ethan keep everything a big secret which ends up getting out anyway. I also would have liked to know what she chose to do when she learned of what happened to Ethan and their baby. While it did make for a more dramatic ending, I felt like I deserved to know what happened to Pattyn. She came so far, only to be sucked back into the drama of her religion and the family rules. I would recommend this novel for anyone looking for a fast read with substance that will keep you turning the pages.
The verdict: 3 stars