A NY Times bestseller, is the story of a young woman, struggling to find her place in the world in the face of abuse by the person she most adores: her father. She questions her family, her faith, and her ability to love and be loved.
Suspended from school, she is sent to rural Nevada to live with an aunt whom she barely knows. There she finds love, acceptance and new knowledge about the things that have made her father like he is. But even there, her demons find her.
Did You Ever
When you were little, endure
your parents’ warnings, then wait
for them to leave the room,
pry loose protective covers
and consider inserting some metal
object into an electrical outlet?
When you were big enough
to cross the street on your own,
did you ever wait for a signal,
hear the frenzied approach
of a fire truck and feel like
stepping out in front of it?
When you were almost grown,
did you ever sit in a bubble bath,
notice a blow dryer plugged
in within easy reach, and think
about dropping it into the water?
And now, do you ever dangle
your toes over the precipice,
dare the cliff to crumble,
defy the frozen deity to suffer
the sun, thaw feather and bone,
take wing to fly you home?
Review From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up-Once again the author of Crank has masterfully used verse to re-create the yearnings and emotions of a teenage girl trapped in tragic circumstances. Poems in varied formats captivate readers as they describe a teen’s immobilizing fear of her abusive father, disgust with a church hierarchy that looks the other way, hope that new relationships can counteract despair, joy in the awakening of romance, and sorrow when demons ultimately prevail. Pattyn Von Stratten is the eldest of eight sisters in a stern Mormon household where women are relegated to servitude and silence. She has a glimpse of normal teenage life when Derek takes an interest in her, but her father stalks them in the desert and frightens him away. Unable to stifle her rage, Pattyn acts out as never before and is suspended from school. Sent to live with an aunt on a remote Nevada ranch, she meets Ethan and discovers forever love. Woven into the story of a teen’s struggle to find her destiny is the story of her aunt’s barrenness following government mismanagement of atomic testing and protests over nuclear waste disposal. Readers will become immersed in Pattyn’s innermost thoughts as long-held secrets are revealed, her father’s beatings take a toll on her mother and sister, and Pattyn surrenders to Ethan’s love with predictable and disturbing consequences. Writing for mature teens, Hopkins creates compelling characters in horrific situations.
I received a copy of BURNED in the mail from my cousin yesterday and couldn’t put it down. I finished it all last night and was completely smitten! My cousin and I were both reared Mormon, and thus identified intensely with the story. We both come from dysfunctional families, which often made me feel like Hopkins had been peeking through my curtains to obtain her material for BURNED.
I am now almost 30 and think this book is long overdue. Hopkins portrayal of a battered young girl in a devoutly religious (and more specifically, Mormon) family is dead on the mark. If only I had the clarity of Pattyn when I was a teen. (As conflicted and confused as Pattyn often is, she is wise beyond her years. My adolescence was marked with a blur of foggy madness…a fury of anger, loneliness, and confusion.) I have since made peace with my past and have left the Mormon church. Yet all the years and miles later, reading BURNED was like going home.
A Word About Burned
I want my readers to know I am not anti-religion. In fact, I go to church (I happen to be Lutheran) regularly, and even sing in the choir. However, every religion can be home to extremists. Pattyn’s family is an extreme (not to mention dysfunctional) example of the LDS faith. I do know fine Mormons, with a strong focus on family that I respect.
Truly, I didn’t start out to write Burned about any religion, but about a girl who winds up in a Columbine-type situation. I needed to bring her to a place where that was the only option she could consider. As I wrote the character, she happened to resemble a Mormon girl who I knew. I once visited her apartment. She and her boyfriend had stockpiled weapons and explosives against the coming “End of Times” forewarned by her church. The character of Pattyn von Stratten was likely born on that visit.
That said, Burned is a work of fiction. Pattyn is damaged not by her religion, but by her father. I give reasons for her father being the way he is. They involve war. His own upbringing. His own damaged past. In the face of his abuse, Pattyn begins to question her place in the world. And her religion is a big part of her world.
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