Interview with Ellen Hopkins - Revisited 2 Years Latter


To all my faithful readers (all 1 or 2 of you),

This morning as I checked my email, I found the following comment from “Anonymous” to a blog posting I wrote two years ago regarding an interview I had with Ellen Hopkins, who is a friend of mine, and author of CRANK, BURNED, GLASS, IDENTICAL and other NY Times bestsellers (I can’t recall all her titles at the moment). It appears the interview is no longer available, sorry. I had no idea someone would go that far back to make a comment, but still, I appreciate this person’s comment and want to respond in a way that she (based on her comments Anonymous appears to be female) will hopefully see it, as well as let you, my faithful readers, understand how I feel about a couple of important subjects.

Here is her comment, followed by my own:


Dear Paul,

I've recently read CRANK and GLASS, and both were novels that I could not put down. I see a lot on here about her being "explicit" but I don't think that's the issue. I think the beauty of her novels is the pain that she shows. She doesn't glorify drug use, like so many books and movies do (the electric kool-aid acid test, anyone?). She gives you the raw truth, about how bad drugs can screw you up. I'm 20 years old, and I've been through severe depression and the suicide of a best friend. I am in a much better place now than I was in January, when I attempted my own death. Reading her interview makes me realize that maybe I can begin to accept his suicide by trying to write from his perspective, instead of just my own feelings about loving him and missing him.

Explicit or not, her stories tell the truth about using drugs, about what can really happen to you. I can't imagine anyone who would read that novel and want to try meth. And THAT is what's really important.


Dear Anonymous,

I truly hope you read this response.

I think you missed my point. I love the way Ms. Hopkins writes about drug abuse and suicide and several other very important subjects. She has a beautiful way of portraying through her “free verse” style of writing, the truth about the horrors of drug abuse that cuts to the soul. I don't have any trouble with her subject matter or the way she presents these issues. The trouble I have is two fold:

1. Explicit use of the so-called "F" word. I know that is supposed to portray realism. She uses it sparingly, I admit, and only for its shock value. But to me it is not necessary, and as adults, we ought to show a better example to our youth.

2. In her book BURNED she refers to a Mormon family and comes dangerously close to portraying this dysfunctional and abusive family as normal of Latter Day Saints, and as a Latter Day Saint, I take exception to that. I think this would have been better, and totally acceptable, if she had not mentioned the denomination.

Aside from those two issues, I think her books are great and I recommend them to every youth who is depressed, tempted to try illicit drugs, or worse, suicide.
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About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Tuesday, July 14, 2009

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