REVIEW: Tricks by Ellen Hopkins

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Summary: Five troubled teenagers fall into prostitution as they search for freedom, safety, community, family, and love.

The Plot: Interesting. Different, especially for me, because I don’t actively seek out books that revolve around teenage prostitution, but I did this time, and I’m so glad that I did. This book has made me think a whole lot about actual child sex trafficking and how little I actually understand about… just, everything. It’s definitely given me a reason to do a little research on my own now, and see if there’s anything I can do to help, because the fact that it’s even still a thing is ridiculous and I refuse to remain ignorant on the subject anymore.

The Characters: For the most part, I liked them well enough. All except maybe two. Seth, I think, was my favorite, probably because I’m already empathetic to queer teens who are abandoned by their parents for being who they were born to be. I pitied Whitney, Ginger deserves better than Alex, couldn’t care less about Cody, and Eden… I hope she never has to see her mother ever again. Or her father, but her mother is who inflicted the most damage.

The Writing: Different. I’ve never read a book where the author writes in free-verse(?), and I’ll admit, I didn’t think I’d be able to connect with any of the characters because of how poetic it is, but I’m glad that I was proven wrong.

Something I Liked: Seth. Like I said, maybe it’s because I’m already empathetic to kids having dealt with his situation, but I felt more invested in his well-being far more than any of the others. I’ve read about too many kids being disowned by parents all because they’re attracted to their same gender. Parents are supposed to love their kids unconditionally, and if you can’t do that, then I’m sorry, but maybe don’t have kids? Not if there’s a condition to your loving them: “I’ll love you no matter what, just don’t be gay.” Doesn’t really sound like a parent to me, but that’s none of my business.

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Something I Disliked: Cody. I don’t know why, but I just started to hate him as his story progressed. Maybe that was the point, though. I don’t know. But it does bring to mind this often misquoted saying:

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” — 1 Timothy 6:10

So, reading that quote from the bible, I can begin to understand why Cody does the things he does. It’s not the money that’s the root of all evil; it’s the love for it, the want of it, that causes him to spiral down, and then I kind of dislike him a little less.

Honestly, none of these characters are saints. Obviously. They’ve all fallen on tough times, some worse than others, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that not all are without any redeeming quality. Even Cody.

As it is, I still give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.

-Sarah

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