Angie's Reviews > Burned

Burned by Ellen Hopkins
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's review
Dec 26, 2011

it was ok
Read in December, 2011

** spoiler alert ** Burned
I really was looking forward to reading this book as I had not read a Ellen Hopkins book before and I can hardly keep them on the shelf at my library. So, when this one came in a week before break I hurriedly checked it out to myself and began reading it that night. What started out with anticipation quickly became daring myself to finish. The whole premise of the book rests on the dysfunctions of the Von Stratten Family, who to all appearances are the perfect religious family. One of my qualms about this book is the fact that Hopkins uses the Mormon religion. While I might agree with some of what is written about this religion, I also know that Hopkins is using stereotypes a plenty to prove her point. If anyone knows very little about this religion, don't base your whole opinion on what you read in this book.
Hopkins, I believe, is not trying to bash Mormonism. She is only using it as a vehicle to show how an conservative religion can leave a teen questioning and wanting more. The oldest (and narrator of the book), Pattyn, starts to question everything she has been raised to believe about her religion as well as her father's hypocritical actions and his character is general. This is the meat of the story line. As Pattyn grows more rebellious and wanting to explore her world, she finds that life has much more to offer. Her religion has left her feeling that women are second class citizens, subservient to men even to the point of tolerating abuse, and unloved and unwanted by her father because she isn't a boy. Pattyn finally finds what she has been seeking in the arms of Ethan when she is sent away to live with her Aunt J. However, as Pattyn learns, even this cannot last as her life has taught her that happiness will never come her way. Pattyn cannot get a break. Whether it is her abusive father or losing all that she has grown to love, Pattyn cannot find happiness in life.
Many teens will empathize with Pattyn and her struggles. But the biggest reason I didn't like this book was the fact that Pattyn only tries to find happiness from others and from things rather than finding it within herself. Her strength and feelings only come from loving someone else, she never really comes to love herself. Only when she is with Ethan and how HE makes her feel does she find happiness. So often we are lead to believe that our happiness is dependent on others or things. The fact that Pattyn chooses the course she chooses at the end, doesn't sit well with me. I realized most of her life she has been beaten down, literally and with the deaths in her life, she feels she has no other way seems to me to be the end of a character who could have fought a little harder at life. What started out as a strong rebellious character ended with weak lump, no better than her mother.
I know many teens will continue to check out this book and will continue to love the Romeo and Julietesque quality, but quite frankly I don't like the message it sends. I am still willing to give Hopkins a try as I already have Crank downloaded on my iPad, but I'm really disappointed in this one.

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