Ellen Hopkins is known for her books told in verse, but her newest release, THE YOU I’VE NEVER KNOWN, is told in both verse and prose. Filled with poetry and deep messages, this novel was the most light-hearted-yet-emotional book by Hopkins thus far. I was offered a review copy by Simon and Schuster Canada, so big thanks to S&S for being so kind to send me an ARC. Without further ado, let’s get into the review by beginning with the synopsis. (I will admit, the synopsis gives away quite a bit relating to the ‘twist,’ so if you don’t want to read the synopsis, skip down below!)
How do you live your life if your past is based on a lie? A new novel in both verse and prose from #1 New York Times bestselling author, Ellen Hopkins.
For as long as she can remember, it’s been just Ariel and Dad. Ariel’s mom disappeared when she was a baby. Dad says home is wherever the two of them are, but Ariel is now seventeen and after years of new apartments, new schools, and new faces, all she wants is to put down some roots. Complicating things are Monica and Gabe, both of whom have stirred a different kind of desire.
Maya’s a teenager who’s run from an abusive mother right into the arms of an older man she thinks she can trust. But now she’s isolated with a baby on the way, and life’s getting more complicated than Maya ever could have imagined.
Ariel and Maya’s lives collide unexpectedly when Ariel’s mother shows up out of the blue with wild accusations: Ariel wasn’t abandoned. Her father kidnapped her fourteen years ago.
What is Ariel supposed to believe? Is it possible Dad’s woven her entire history into a tapestry of lies? How can she choose between the mother she’s been taught to mistrust and the father who has taken care of her all these years?
In bestselling author Ellen Hopkins’s deft hands, Ariel’s emotionally charged journey to find out the truth of who she really is balances beautifully with Maya’s story of loss and redemption. This is a memorable portrait of two young women trying to make sense of their lives and coming face to face with themselves—for both the last and the very first time.
***Disclaimer: I received a review copy from S&S Canada. This has in no way impacted my review.**
This book was an emotional ride. It’s definitely a lot lighter compared to some of Hopkins’ other works, like IDENTICAL and BURNED, both of which I read and remember having heavier themes than this one. However, at the heart of this book, what I liked was that it contained a story about family. First and foremost, the novel was always about identity, family, and finding yourself. I liked how Hopkins was able to diverge from her usual writing style (verse) and use a mixture of the two to get across a unique dual PoV. Though I guessed the twist not long before it was revealed, it still came to me as a shock. (Kudos, Hopkins!) I especially enjoyed the diverse aspects of the novel, especially the exploration of bisexuality.
Now, let’s get into the two characters themselves. Both are young women, in their teens, exploring different parts of themselves. Ariel has never known life outside being with her father. Though her father was definitely the worst, Ariel was still able to forgive him for certain things, which I found to be very mature. I liked how different Maya’s voice was compared to Ariel’s, considering Maya’s parts are told in prose and Ariel’s in verse. I still have to say, though, that Hopkins’ verse is one of the best, so Ariel really stole the show for me. I wanted to keep reading her parts, which took up most of the novel compared to Maya’s sections, as they were really quick to get through.
I especially liked Monica and Gabe, though Monica won my heart in terms of BFFs-to-more characters. The fact that she’s Mexican and brings with her a rich culture and language made the story even more organic and diverse.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, though I’m not sure if I liked it more than the other two I’ve read by her. Those were hard-hitting with twists I did not see coming, especially in IDENTICAL. I remember reading IDENTICAL in one day, as well as BURNED. It’s been a few years since then, so I thought it was time to pick up another one of her books, but this one took me a bit longer to get through. This one did have a lighter tone, though, and made for a different, perhaps more unique (and maybe more enjoyable for some!) read.
My rating: 4.5/5*. This book released on Jan 24, 2017.
Until next time,