Author: Ellen Hopkins
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: 2011
Why I Read It
For those who know my strong dislike of love triangles in YA literature might be surprised by my choice in reading this book, which is all about love triangles. Bear with me though! I chose this book because:
- It is a novel in verse. I am currently participating in Camp NaNoWriMo and am trying to write a novel in verse. So it was research. 🙂
- It was written by Ellen Hopkins. She has written numerous books in verse. Starting with Crank, which was written in response to her own daughter’s struggles with drugs. I have devoured EVERY Ellen Hopkins book I could.
- Once I read the book flap, I had to read it.
- I used it to meet one of my Summer Reading Challenge reads.
Short Synopsis (no spoilers)
Three friends–two married, one not. Each unsatisfied with what life has handed them. Is the grass always greener on the other side? It is a story of friendship, the quest for love, and how sometimes working through the most difficult things in life can rebuild everything you desire.
What I Liked
I was looking for books, written in verse, in order to study the style and structure. Of course, I went looking for Hopkins’ newest in her YA series. When I found an adult novel by her, I had to check it out. And I am so glad I did.
Now, I have ranted about love triangles before–Why I Hate ❤ Triangles–but that’s mainly in regards to YA novels. This is an adult novel. An adult novel with real adult morality issues. An adult novel about real love triangles and how they are NOT pretty. They hurt people. And they never work out with everyone happy in the end.
Triangles is a novel about three women, who could be any one of us. A single mom doing the best she can to raise her child, while wondering why love has never found her. A married mom of three who seems to have it all, but isn’t satisfied, so seeks out what she thinks will make her happy. A married mom of two whose husband works far too much, because one child was born to die and the other is gay.
Hopkins uses her writing style to help you feel the emotional toll these three women are going through. I thoroughly enjoyed her layout and the use of end poems to wrap up the theme of that section to lead into the next one. I also loved how those end poems could be read in two different ways. There is the poem as a whole and then she sets off one word every stanza or so, that can be read on it’s own and encompasses the theme in the poem.
Each character speaks through her own set of poems. Through these poems the characters become real, their struggles apparent and full of dimension. As a reader, I love traditional novels, but I admire the authors able to write in and tell a story through verse entirely. The author of a verse novel cannot depend on the traditional sets of descriptions and heavy dialogue to tell the story. The story is told through introspective poems from the characters perspectives. I have come to realize this year, as I continue my reading, I particularly enjoy first person narratives far more than others. When I can get inside the characters’ heads and struggle through their struggles and celebrate their triumphs with them, I have a greater appreciation for the story as a whole.
The struggles in this novel, are struggles all women face at some point in their lives. Everyone questions whether the grass is greener, but it is our choice whether to act upon those feelings or not. And that action can actual bring us closer to loving what we originally had, rather than forsaking everything for what we think might be better. But, those same actions can rip apart a family with no hope of repair. Reading this novel put those thoughts, ideas, and decisions in perspective.
There were moments I hated Holly. She had it all and was willing to throw it all away because she thought she could find something better somewhere else. Then there were the moments I felt sorry for Holly. Communication is the key. Why can’t people learn to communicate? It would solve so many problems! I identified most with Andrea. As a single mother, focused on her daughter and her career, I can understand the ideas she struggles with and know how hard it is to find that one thing we are looking for. And, it often finds us when we stop looking. (Yes mom, you were right…sigh…)
I do hope Hopkins will continue writing adult novels. I thoroughly enjoyed this one!
- There are a few poems that don’t solely focus on the many adult themes running throughout this book I might use with students.
What I Didn’t Like
There are more than a few racy scenes and I am not so much against reading racy material (I broke my teeth in the adult reading world on romance novels, after all :-)), but I do think it will put some people off the book. It will definitely be one I cannot recommend to my students to read directly, which is sad, because I think some of my students could get some perspective on their own relationships within their families.
- Anyone who loves Ellen Hopkins
- Anyone who needs a real story about real life love and hurt.