The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins is a Perfect Ten!

Hopkins, Ellen. The You I’ve Never Known. Margaret K. McElderry/Simon & Schuster, 2017. 608p. $18.99. 978-1-4814-4290-9. 5Q 5P S

Ariel’s life with her dad has always been in a state of turmoil. Abandoned by her mother as a baby, Ariel has constantly moved to new cities and schools. At seventeen, she thinks they might actually stay in one place long enough to complete an entire grade level at the same school. She makes friends and has some romantic (or is it lustful?) feelings for some of these friends. Then, there is Maya. Through her diary entries, readers learn that her relationship with her mother is so toxic that Maya searches elsewhere for love. Maya finds that love (or is it convenience?) with an older man in the military. Of course, her life would be better if she were married and raising a baby of her own, right? While the two characters seem to have nothing to do with each other, their lives completely change when their worlds intersect. They will never be the same again.

Hopkins, using her unique style in the novel-in-verse format, has interwoven suspense, teenage angst, dysfunction, optimism, and hope. One character’s story is told in verse, providing easy distinction between the protagonist’s story and the alternate story. Delving into issues of teen pregnancy, scientology, bisexuality, same-sex marriage, family, and determination, this book is as substantial as it is beautifully written. Hopkins’s fans will love the newest edition to her published works, a must for contemporary young adult collections.—Dianna Geers.

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