Title: The You I’ve Never Known
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Genre: YA Contemporary/ Realistic Fiction/ LGBTQ/ Verse
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Goodreads Synopsis: 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.
Today I will be reviewing The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins. Ellen Hopkins has written many fantastic books and I was excited to read her latest verse book. As I browsed the shelves of my local library, I found a copy sitting on the shelve beaconing me to bring it home. And that is exactly what I did.
As I’ve mentioned in my review of Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen (click for review), I really enjoy verse. The author that initially got me into verse was Ellen Hopkin’s, Crank. Ever since that first verse book, I have a soft spot for verse books. The powerful and creative way that verse authors pull together characters and meaning always moves me. And The You I’ve Never Known is no different.
Ariel Pearson is a seventeen-year-old girl who has traveled the country but has never stayed in one place very long. Her dad is the only family she knows, as her mother abandoned them when she was only two. Now, Ariel and her dad have set up in Sonora, California. After years without feeling comfortable letting people into her life, Ariel decides to make friends. However, Monica and Gabe make Ariel’s life complicated as she has to learn things about herself that she never knew.
Maya is a young seventeen-year-old who is trying to escape her mother and ends up pregnant as a way to get out. She leaves her mom behind for the father of her baby, but her life only becomes more complicated. Unexpectedly, both Maya and Ariel’s lives collide when Ariel’s mom shows up accusing her dad of kidnapping.
As I sit down to read The You I’ve Never Known, I was pulled right into the book. Here is what I thought about The You I’ve Never Known:
Things I Like:
Every emotion that Ariel and Maya felt was pulled through the pages of the book. The pure hatred that Ariel expressed about her mom was real and made me take a step back. It was as if I was experiencing those emotions along with the characters. I experienced the same emotions in the passages written in Maya’s perspective. When Ariel is learning about her own sexuality, she is open and honest with those she trusts. Although I can’t entirely relate, I still felt as if a part of me was able to connect with the feelings Ariel was going through during her process of finding herself.
There are many psychological aspects that are prevalent in The You I’ve Never Known. One being that the deception is woven into the plot without even knowing it. This not only made the book more interesting, but it drug you along for the ride just like Ariel.
Teenagers being teenagers
As I have read many of Ellen Hopkin’s books in the past, she always does a good job of describing teenage angst. That yearning to leave the house and get away from overbearing parents. It is all perfectly described by Hopkins. Maya wanting the get away from her not so caring mother and Ariel who wants to settle down for once in her life. Both want to lead independent lives, but their parents try and force them to stay under their wing.
Okay now, this one I did not see coming! Now I won’t spoil it for those who have yet to read the book, but there is a serious plot twist that puts the entire book into perspective. I could not believe the scene in which it happened. Every character was on edge and it made the whole scene that much better.
Things I Don’t Like:
Plot took too long to develop
Now I was anxiously awaiting when a pregnant Maya and Ariel would meet, but I kept reading and reading and nothing. 400 pages later and bam! The moment I had been waiting for. It was worth it for it to be that far into the book, but from reading the cover I was desperately waiting to have Maya and Ariel together.
Not knowing what happens next
Okay so that last one was only really a partial con, however, the book quickly ended after Ariel meets her mom. There was a brief interaction with Ariel’s mom and Ariel, but nothing concrete on what would happen from there. There was little to no closure with some of the characters and I wish that there would have been something more.
Overall, The You I’ve Never Known written by Ellen Hopkins was a good read. It brought to life the feelings of motherhood and self-discovery in such a raw and emotional way. Hopkins uses verse in a powerful way to hit home the feelings of the characters. I give The You I’ve Never Known…
What do you think? Is it possible a young kid didn’t know they were kidnapped? Let me know in the comments!
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