The You I've Never Known by Ellen Hopkins
Publishing Date: January 24, 2017
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing)
The Premise from the Publisher: "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" (Margaret K. McElderry Books/SS).
My overall thoughts and review: It has been a while since I've read a book by Ellen Hopkins. I own all of her books but I haven't gotten around to reading them all. I've always been a fan though. I can remember being in my final years of university and my friend, Michelle, was talking about Crank and she got me onto reading these books. Hopkins write in a prose/poetry style that is incredibly unique and she builds such strong characters with an internal voice. I also really like it when Hopkins merges multiple narratives. In The You I've Never Known, Hopkins gives us two stories: Ariel and Maya. Ariel's parts are written in the prose/poetry style I mentioned and Maya's parts are written in a letter/journal structure. Both characters are incredibly different and you definitely get more of Ariel's narrative. I don't want to spoil the twist, but I did see it coming about half way through (Michelle and me were messaging each other on facebook, going we had figured it out). Even though I figured it out, I really liked how the text came full circle. Both characters have some things in common like trying to figure out their identity, sexual identity and finding their place in the world. I liked how there was a large emphasis on friendship and family in the text. Even though there was a large part on relationships (Ariel with Monica & Ariel with Gabe), Hopkins also emphasized on the importance of family by showing us Monica's family and speaking about Gabe's family.
Again, I don't want to say too much without spoiling the text, but as someone who grew up with a single mom and has a strong relationship with my mom, this text really struck a chord with me. I found myself getting emotional a few times reading Maya's passages. At the end of the day, I think what I enjoy most about Hopkins' books is that, she does not sugarcoat anything. Everyone has their own struggles and sometimes, it can be really messed up things and I like that she does not shy away from that. She has very complex characters and some characters you even hate (Jason is awful!), but I loved how "real" it was. I think I've said this before in regards to her other novels, but she offers the reader such realistic narratives; it doesn't necessarily end in flames, but it also does not have a neat ending all wrapped in a bow. If you are a fan of Hopkins' other books, you will definitely enjoy this one. It is a great and addictive read about finding yourself, falling in love, friendship and most importantly, family.
My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (4/5 stars)
Available for preorder at:
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Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was sent by Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions of the book are my own.