Ellen Hopkins again writes with her unusual style of poetry, as she does with her other novels, in Burned. This is the first novel in the Burned duology. However, the first stretch of the story fails to reach me in the same way Hopkins usually does. Her evocative writing style usually wells up emotions and powerful imagery, but Burned proved hard to connect to. The story followed Pattyn, an adolescent girl on the brink of growing up in a Mormon family. Her sexuality and feminine strength have not yet awakened by the opening of the book. She struggles throughout with the role of women in a family and what her own worth is as a daughter of an abusive and alcoholic father. When she is exiled for the summer to her Aunt’s house out in the beautiful Nevada ranch land, she meets a boy who makes her feel beautiful, and she gives him everything. There, she learns the valuable lessons of self-worth, awakening her fragile sexuality, and how to love someone properly. The book turns south when she finds herself pregnant and torn away from her first love when its time to return home to a father that has started abusing her sister at the end of the summer. She decides to abandon her family with her lover, but ends up in a horrific car crash that renders her alone without a baby or a companion. This unsatisfying ending is supposed to set itself up well for the next novel, but it leaves a bittersweet taste for the reader. The themes and running motifs in this novel are very pulling to a female reader in the midst of an adult transition yet some of Pattyn’s experiences leave a disconnect between the lessons and the reader. As someone who initially couldn’t connect to the very emotional, yet at the same time emotionless Pattyn, I felt no urge to read the following installment.
There’s a link to the book trailer below: