Tricks Hardcover – August 25, 2009
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From School Library Journal
- Grade Level : 9 - 12
- Lexile Measure : HL590L
- Item Weight : 1.2 pounds
- Hardcover : 640 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1416950079
- ISBN-13 : 978-1416950073
- Product Dimensions : 5 x 1.9 x 7 inches
- Publisher : Margaret K. McElderry Books; 1st edition (August 25, 2009)
- Reading level : 14 and up
- Language: : English
Best Sellers Rank:
#288,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #147 in Gay & Lesbian Poetry
- #462 in Teen & Young Adult Fiction about Being a Teen (Books)
- #1,641 in Teen & Young Adult Family Fiction
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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TRICKS chronicles the lives of five different teenagers, all around the ages of fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen. Eden, the daughter of a born-again pastor and his equally (perhaps even more) zealous wife, falls in love with a boy named Andrew. Andrew is not born-again or even particularly religious. Ginger is the daughter of a prostitute with zero maternal instincts who sells her to the highest bidder. Seth is gay and from Indiana, with a conservative father who believes being gay is a sin. Cody is a normal boy until a combination of death in the family, his girlfriend's older brother introducing him to gambling, and just screwing things up really badly comes back to bite him. Whitney is a girl who feels ignored by her mother, and only loved by a mostly absent father. All these teens are faced with hard choices, make a few really awful ones, and all end up "tricking" for money. At some parts, TRICKS was very sad, but again, it didn't really seem like Hopkins was doing justice to how sad the situation really is. It was sort of like, "Look, isn't it terrible! Aren't they unfortunate! Couldn't you just cry?"-- terrible things happened to the teens, but because the story is sectioned in a way that doesn't really let the reader connect with them, it doesn't leave as big of an impact as it should. After the last page, you hardly remember any of the characters well enough to even feel anything for them.
TRICKS is written in characteristic Hopkins style-- free verse, and written the way a real teen would talk. But something was missing in this one. There was none of the heartbreak I felt with IDENTICAL, none of the sympathy I felt for the characters in IMPULSE (which was also divided, but only between three characters), none of the suspense of BURNED or CRANK or GLASS. TRICKS was an all right book, but coming from Hopkins, I expected something more.
SEX, DRUGS, PAIN, MISERY and the GRITTY LIFE of five teens that are forced to live this lifestyle because of something that they are running from in their past. This amazingly written, well described book "tricks" that is the second book in Ellen Hopkins's series. The book "tricks" is a great read and worth the while to start from the beginning of the series, read them all! This book kept my attention and made me want to read more of the series. The truth the words hold will weld the book to your hands.
All the main characters are teenagers between 16 and 17 years old. The main characters in "tricks" are Ginger, Cody, Whitney, Seth and, Eden. Ginger lives with her mother and grandma, that is until she ran away. Ginger's mother was selling her to men for money without her knowing until one day she found out from one of the guys that her mother had sold her to. Cody is a teenager living in Las Vegas when his step dad died. Cody was very close to his step dad and he was supporting Cody's whole family. Cody's mom couldn't get a job so Cody turned to prostitution to help support his family. Also Cody needed to pay back the money he stole so cody could go online gambling. Whitney grew up in San Francisco with her wealthy family. Whitney's father worked in Los Angeles and stayed down there most of the time, so she spent most of the time with her mom who doesn't really like Whitney. Whitney's mother likes Whitney's sister who is at college. Since her father isn't at home and her hateful mother is home she ran away with a guy named Bryn. Seth was born in Nebraska on a farm and then when he was very young his mother passed away. Once Seth's father found out about him being gay he kicked Seth out right away. Some of the characters that you'll meet in the twists and turn of "tricks" have had good pasts and some of the others have had bad pasts, but all of the main characters ran away from their pasts.
The style of Ellen Hopkins writing is in a poetry format. The point of view of ellen's writings are from the character's thoughts and their point of view. Ellen's word choice in impeccable for the book "tricks" and the rest of the series.
Ellen Hopkins was adopted at birth and raised by an older couple. She grew up in Palm Springs CA, she spent the summers in Napa and at Lake Tahoe. After Ellen's adopted parents died, she found her birth mother, who lives in Michigan with her half sister. Ellen studied journalism in college, but left school to marry and to raise her kids. She started her own business which was a video store. After she divorced her first husband, she met her current husband and they moved to Tahoe to try and find their dreams. At that time, she went to work for a small alternative newspaper, writing stories and eventually editing for the newspaper. When they moved to the Reno area, she started writing nonfiction books. She also continued to freelance articles for newspapers and magazines.
Once again, Ellen Hopkins exposes the gross underbelly of humanity. Tricks is a story of five teenagers who through different circumstances end up selling sex or turning tricks as the saying goes.
As I read this one, I wondered if this was meant to be a cautionary tale for teens or their parents. Four of these teens end up doing what they do because of bad parenting, very bad parenting. A word to the wise, if you sell your kid for sex, or lock them up with nobody to take care of them but perverts who will take advantage of them, they will end up in the sex trade. With one of the girls, it is debatable if it was her parents who drove her to do what she did. A pimp who takes advantage of her at a vulnerable time tricks her into it. The fifth teen is the one who makes his decision on his own. He does do it out of desperation, but it was his own decisions that got him in that situation in the first place.
This book is not for everyone. It deals with a very ugly truth that is out there. During the time I was reading this, I spotted a girl in the mall who was not dressed very conservatively. She had on very short shorts, and a top that could hardly be considered a bra, not something you would let your girlfriend go out in public with. I noticed that there was a man walking close behind that looked to be in his late thirties early forties. You can imagine how quickly my mind went to this book. Most of the story takes place in Vegas where you would expect this sort of thing to happen. The truth is it happens everywhere to some extent.
If you don't mind reading cautionary tales about the dark side of our world, give this one a read.
Top reviews from other countries
It sheds a light on a subject rarely talked about or acknowledged in today's society or any society for that matter.
This is an immensely dark read with scenes that shocked me and stayed with me long after reading. The emotional state of all 5 characters was written superbly, leaving tears in my eyes in many parts of the novel. Ellen's writing is beautifully lyrical and adds so much to the story. Hopkins writes this story with realism, demonstrating how and why each character turns to selling their body.
The themes of religion, sexuality, homophobia, relationships (parental, family & romantic), substance abuse, poverty, sex, love and of course prostitution were all handled seamlessly by Hopkins.
This story explores these serious themes brilliantly with caution, while also questioning what it means to love & what love is.
Tricks is a story about five deeply troubled teenagers, all from different areas, backgrounds, and family situations who end up falling into prostitution.
Each character has a story to tell. These stories are brief, and jump from one character to the next and back again. At the beginning, I was a little frustrated at how short their stories were and was afraid that I would not be able to distinguish one character from the next. It turns out there was no need to worry. Hopkins does a brilliant job of infusing her characters with life, personality and emotions. As I continued to read, and the characters’ situations became more harrowing, I found the stories very intense and was relieved there was some separation. I was also surprised at how much I enjoyed the writing style. These stories told in verse allowed me to get into the minds and feelings of the characters without extraneous detail, and helped me feel a deeper connection with them.
Tricks broke my heart and made my stomach churn. The stories were gripping, painful, and honest. My own teenage years, painful memories, wrong choices, and difficulty with parents all came flooding back. I wish my own parents could have read a book like this, just to see how their own behavior and actions could irreparably damage a child’s life.