Smoke by Ellen Hopkins

“Pattyn’s father is dead. Now she’s on the run in this riveting companion to New York Times bestseller Burned, which Kirkus Reviews calls “a strong, painful, and tender piece about wresting hope from the depths of despair.”

Pattyn Von Stratten’s father is dead, and Pattyn is on the run. After far too many years of abuse at the hands of her father, and after the tragic loss of her beloved Ethan and their unborn child, Pattyn is desperate for peace. Only her sister Jackie knows what happened that fatal night, but she is stuck at home with their mother, who clings to normalcy by allowing the truth to be covered up by their domineering community leaders. Her father might be finally gone, but without Pattyn, Jackie is desperately isolated.

Alone and in disguise, Pattyn starts a new life as a migrant worker on a California ranch. But is it even possible to rebuild a life when everything you’ve known has burned to ash and lies seem far safer than the truth?

Bestselling author Ellen Hopkins continues the riveting story of Pattyn Von Stratten she began in Burned to explore what it takes to rise from the ashes, put ghosts to rest, and step into a future.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan back again with another book review!

“I have no right to love you, but I do.”

Stars (Out of 10): 7/10 Stars

Overall Thoughts: I am really glad Pattyn and her story got this sequel. She deserved to find happiness, or an ending at least. And I am glad that both Pattyn and her family got the ending they did, as it both creates a realistic story of abuse, and how much it can wreck lives and individuals, but still show that there can be more to life than that current situation, and creates a story to show abuse victims that there is a reason to try for something more.

The Good: The switching of POVs was well done, as each one ended on an event that garnered my attention, and made me curious for the coming POV of that character. This created a cycle of finding things to like about each section, and I felt a balance of interest in each POV. However, on top of that, I also just liked the plot, and how everything ended up clicking together after the hardship. In addition, I felt the book did a good job of discussing the tough subject of abuse, and advertising the importance of telling others of the situation, and trying to get out of it. It brought attention to the issue without painting it as “taboo” or a thing brought on the victim, and rather strived to correct that idea.

The Bad: The speed of a specific relationship involving Jackie felt unrealistic and far too quick. Also, while I liked most of the ambiguous, poetic beginning chapters of each POV, some felt like they didn’t fit, and they often pulled me out of the story a bit.

SPOILERS BEGIN HERE

The Characters: I liked both the redemption found for some characters (such as the Mom), and the salvation found for others (Pattyn and Jackie). I also loved the new side characters we found, and it was a refreshing twist to the story to find people outside of the family or already established relationships that cared for Pattyn and Jackie, such as Gavin, Angel, Arianna, etc.

The Plot: I really liked this. While Ellen Hopkins often writes books where most characters do not end up in good situations (Tricks, Crank, Impulse, etc.), I really like how this one is different from that. It also helps that Ellen Hopkins is an extremely realistic writer, so when she writes a happy ending, it feels real and potentially attainable for readers in the same position. Overall, I also just liked the plot in the context of it just being a book. It showed characters coming back from a dark event, and did so in a realistic, yet inspiring, way.

The Favorite Character: Gavin & Angel

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