Thursday, September 7, 2017

The You I've Never Known by Ellen Hopkins

The You I've Never Known is a YA realistic fiction book about learning who you are. Arial lives with her dad, and her mom disappeared when she was two. She has never stayed in one place for more than a school year, mostly less. With her dad who is an alcoholic with a fiery temper, Arial feels as though she is walking on glass. Life gets more complicated when she has feelings for both her friends, Monica and Gabe. The task of figuring out who she is becomes more difficult when a lady shows up claiming to be Arial's mother stating that her father kidnapped her. Arial tries to figure out what to believe and who to trust, and confront her dad once and for all. 

The You I've Never Known is written in a combination of verse and prose. More often than not, I find that books written in poetry are underdeveloped. I was pleasantly surprised! Somehow the author managed to take regular text and dialogue and turn it into poetry, while still containing full sentences. I was stunned because the writing felt really strong, and even better than other books!

The part about Arial's mother did not really come up until towards the end, which I honestly did not mind. While in the description it sounds like the whole book is about the mother, most of it is about Arial and who she is, and her already chaotic life. Personally, I loved how the author built up Arial's life before her mother walked in. I think that Arial handled the situation as best as she could, and she is lucky to have such great friends to support her. All the secondary characters were completely developed and play a huge role in who Arial is. Hillary is a character that I was really interested in, and enjoyed getting to know her. I would definitely want to be her friend in real life! 

A lot of teenagers experience the daunting question of "Who am I?" This book clearly shows all of the factors that change who we are. While I would not categorize The You I've Never Known as inspirational, it does teach a lesson loud and clear to live in the moment, and to make everything you do count. The pacing was smooth and flowed like water. It is so easy to get lost in this book, and I could not put it down! I hope I have time to read it again before I have to return it to the library.

Hopkins is not afraid to bring up those heavy topics. 99% of the time Arial's dad is around, he is drunk. He spends more time with other women than his own daughter, and his humor is borderline inappropriate. Abuse is in there as well. A lot of hearts will be touched by Arial's story. (Note: Because this book heavily involves alcohol, child abuse, and contains a few imitate scenes, I would recommend it only for older YA readers.)

I highly recommend this book!

Title: The You I've Never Known
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pages: 608 Pages
Series: No 
Rating: 5 Stars

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