Impulseis the story of three young people whose lives intersect in a psych hospital, after separate attempted suicides. It is about the things that brought them there, but more about the bond that forms between them. Can they help each other move beyond their personal demons?

Impulse Excerpt

Without Warning

you’re traveling
a highway, the only road
you’ve ever known,
and wham! A semi
comes from nowhere
and rolls right over you.

you don’t wake up.
But if you happen
to, you know things
will never be
the same.

that’s not
so bad.

lives intersect,
no rhyme, no reason,
except, perhaps,
for a passing semi.

Review from

Impulse deals with teen suicide—or, more accurately, attempted suicide, since most of its characters end up alive and better off than they were at the book’s beginning. The book is set at a psychiatric hospital for teenagers, “a place no reasonable person would ever want to go.” The three main characters each have their own problems and ideas about how they want to die. Bipolar cutter Vanessa, whose “demons…keep on howling, like Mama, when she was in a bad way,” slit her wrists. Gorgeous, rich over-achiever Conner, who believes that “trust is just another five letter word, one that comes before not,” shot himself in the heart. Charismatic Tony, the homeless “boy with the hellfire eyes,” intentionally overdosed to end a life of unspeakable abuse. At first, the three seem to have “nothing in common except age, proximity, and a wish to die.” But as they discover each other’s innate decency and share their histories of neglect and physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, they forge bonds that although deep and real may not be enough to save them.

Hopkins has said that her “books are not about the things that happen to…characters, but rather about how those characters react to those things.” This is a perfect description of Impulse, a tragic yet hopeful, compulsively readable journey into three bright and damaged kids’ interior lives.


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