Wednesday, September 15, 2010


TricksTitle: Tricks    
Author: Ellen Hopkins  
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books 
Publication Date: 2009  
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel In Verse   
Summary: This story if the story of five teenagers across the country trying to find out who they are and what it means to be loved.  Their stories are separate but become intertwined by the end. 
What I Think: I think it's really hard to write a summary for this book!  The inside jacket of the book really didn't give me a clear picture of this book.  This book was much more intense than I expected it to be from the summary.  I should have expected it to be as raw as it is just because it's written by Hopkins.  I've read Crank and Glass by Hopkins which are both seriously serious books.
     This book basically highlights five teens who are searching to find themselves in the lives they are growing up in.  Most of their issues come from how they deal with their lives and their role in their family.  Honestly, as a parent reading this book it was heart-wrenching to think what these teens have to deal with...there is a lot of sex going on in this book and most of it is not anywhere close to a healthy kind of sex.  It makes me sad to think of how much teen prostitution is going on in our country let alone the world.  This book makes me realize how important a healthy family life is and how important it is for families to communicate and support each other.
     Banned Book Week was recently celebrated and I found myself thinking about banning books.  I can definitely see how this book might be too explicit for some readers, but at the same time I think it is so relevant to society today.  If teen prostitution is happening in our country and other countries, shouldn't people know about it, and read about it, and understand it, and help do something about it?  It's obviously not a fun topic to address, but it still needs to be addressed.  Overall, I don't think books should be banned but I seriously hope teachers and parents are reading what their teens are reading.  This book should be about starting discussions and making a difference.  
Read Together: I wouldn't read this book aloud...but it's up to you.  If you're going to read it at the same time as your teen and discuss or recommend to them, I would say he/she should at least be in grade 9 or higher...I'm not even sure grade 9 is high enough for this book...maybe I'm too naive?  
Read Alone: 11 - 12
Read With: Other Ellen Hopkins books like Crank or GlassThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher; Sold by Patricia McCormick; The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine by Somaly Mam
Snatch of Text:  

"A Poem by Ginger Cordell
You Never Know
When a passing cloud
might meet another,
and together unleash
on thirsting ground.
One insignificant spark
bone-brittle tender.
Buoyed by the quiet
breeze, an ember
                           smolders until
evening wind blows,
carries smoking wisps
upon its wings into
                              the forest,
sights into crackling
summer leaves until
the canopy
So take note of every
passing cloud, because
you never know."

Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Asking Questions  
Writing Strategies to Practice: Descriptive, Poetry, Personal Narrative  
Writing Prompts: Write about a time when you felt betrayed by a person you trusted.  Write about a time when you felt support when you really needed it from a friend or family member.  Use your five senses to describe how you felt when someone you trusted let you down.  Write a poem that mimics the style of poem above (and others found througout the book).    
Topics Covered: Teen Prostitution, Family, Friendship, Sexuality, Love, Trust, Drugs, Novels in Verse
Translated to Spanish: No


  1. Excellent review. I agree that this is probably not a read-aloud book, unless maybe it were part of an elective course on teen issues or creative writing. I have definitely marked some of the poems in this book to use as lesson ideas. I love having students practice writing their own poems in the style of another poet. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Sounds like a good book to generate lots of discussions. I am really excited to try this author some day soon.


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