Melinda Sordino’s freshman year is off to a horrible start. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, and now her friends—and even strangers—all hate her. Months pass and things aren’t getting better. She’s a pariah. The lowest of the low. Avoided by everyone. But eventually, she’ll reveal what happened at the party. And when she finally speaks the truth, everything will change.
I read Speak years ago when I was in high school. So, when the author recently released a new book, Shout, I knew I wanted to reread this before getting into Shout. I borrowed the audiobook from my library and started listening a few hours before I knew I’d be in the car for a few hours. It’s a short audiobook so I knew I’d be able to listen to it quickly.
Speak was, at times, really hard to listen to. The content of the story was tough. It follows a girl who was raped at a party just before the start of her freshman year of high school. We get to see the effect this has on Melinda as she tries to navigate her new school. She’s lost all of her friends because she called the police at the end of the summer party. It was really hard to listen to this without screaming that she should just tell someone what happened. But when she finally does, she isn’t believed. The hardest part of this story was knowing that things like this happen every day in real life.
I really loved the way Anderson ended this book. Melinda finally finds her voice and stands up for herself. I also listened to the anniversary edition of the audiobook so I got to listen to a Q&A with the author at the end. She talks about the importance of consent and parents teaching their children about these topics, no matter how hard and uncomfortable they can be. There was also a short message from Jason Reynolds. He tells a story of his mother sitting him down and teaching him about consent. “Women are not furniture for you to sit upon when you want.” I really enjoyed Speak and all of the extra content that came along with this edition. If you haven’t read this book yet, you need to.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.
Witnessing the fallout from the poor choices their parents make, three teens are clinging to the last remnants of the secure and familiar world in which they’ve grown up. But what was once clear is now confused. Everything is tilting.
Mikayla is sure she’s found the love her parents lost, but is suddenly weighing nearly impossible choices. Shane has come out, but finds himself struggling to keep it all under control in the face of first love and a horrific loss. Harley, a good girl just seeking new experiences, never expects to hurtle toward self-destructive extremes in order to define who she is. Ellen Hopkins crafts a wrenching story that explores the ways we each find the strength we need to hold on when our world’s been tilted completely off its axis.
Tilt by Ellen Hopkins is a sort of companion novel to her adult novel Triangles (you can find my review for Triangles here.) I really enjoyed that book and was super excited to read this one and get the story from the perspective of the children. Hopkins once again did not disappoint.
This story starts off right where Triangles does. It’s the beginning of summer break and that’s the best time of year for any kid. The time with no responsibilities, the time for the beach and camping and all the fun summer activities, which yes, usually involves doing things our parents wouldn’t want us to. I know I sure went a little crazy in the summertime when I was younger.
I really liked this book better than Triangles. I’ve spent all day thinking about why this is and I think I’ve settled on the fact that I have a much easier time relating to the characters within Tilt. I’ve been the girl that sneaks out of her house. I’ve been the girl who goes to her mom’s house because I could get away with murder there rather than have to follow the ruled at my dad’s house. I’ve been the girl who drinks and smokes even though it’s not the best or right way to deal with my problems or emotions. These characters are going through things that I understand and can completely relate to. That’s something that will immediately make me love a book, reading about a character that I can relate to or have similar experiences too. Like my review for Triangles, I’m not going to go into the details of each character, but I really loved them all. They’re just kids trying to figure out what their place is in this crazy world while also fighting seemingly insurmountable struggles.
This story, Tilt, talks about so many subjects that are normally shied away from. One character struggles with being a pregnant teenager and what that means for her future. She struggles with the decision of abortion versus adoption versus keeping the baby. Another character struggles with being gay and having a boyfriend that’s infected with HIV. Then his sister dies and he falls down the depression hole and uses drinking and drugs to try to cope with his feelings. The third deals with how she views herself versus how she thinks others view her. She does things and makes choices that she knows she probably shouldn’t but does them anyway because she craves attention and mostly just wants to be loved. Even though I’m almost 25, I remember what it was like to feel similarly to these characters and deal with these struggles.
I preferred Tilt over Triangles for one other reason. I’m not sure what it is that makes me feel this way, but the young characters in Tilt seem to have such a better awareness of those around them. They’re most considerate of how their loved ones are feeling and (for the most part) how their actions will affect those that they care about. In Triangles, that seems to be something lacking from the adults. You would think it would be the other way around where the adults would be overly concerned about how the results of their actions on their children, but the children, Shane, Mikayla, and Harley are always thinking about how their parents would feel if they did this or that. It was something I liked and I thought it showed an interesting maturity in them.
Overall I really enjoyed this story. It’s another book from Hopkins that hits close to home and makes you think about topics that people usually avoid. This book makes you take a hard look at choices that some teens have to make. Tilt talks about things that should be talked about rather than shied away from. With relatable characters and a story so interesting I just couldn’t put the book down until I finished every last page. I recommend this book to every reader out there for sure. Hopkins is an incredible writer and I’m just blown away by her talent every time I read another of her books. If you haven’t read any of Ellen Hopkins works stop what you’re doing and go read any of them right now.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.
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