The You I’ve Never Known [Review]

SPOILER FREE REVIEW

The You I've Never Known.jpgSynopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com): 

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.

Pages: 608

Goodreads Rating: 3.98/5 Stars

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Opinion

To start off, I have never read an Ellen Hopkins novel previously and I was very surprised as to how much this novel resonated with me. Not only that, but I greatly enjoyed the mix of narrative poetry and prose that she used to craft this novel – it carried a narrative power that plain prose would never had been able to carry on it’s own. (If anything, it made me wish that I could write like she does!)

Through using the narrative poem style, there is a lot that you can and can’t do with it. However, I felt like something that really shone through was the setting. I didn’t have a difficult time creating some sort of imagery to accompany the events on the page. More than that, all of those details were subtle and didn’t distract from what Hopkins wanted us to focus on – the journey of Ariel, our main character.

I was also amazed about how much I came to care for each and every character that had a major role in this novel. While I did find that some of the characters fell away or didn’t gain as much characterization towards the end of the book, I did find some part to connect with each and every one of them towards the end. Although they may have simply been works on a page, it amazed me how easily they came to life within my mind.

The most important part of this novel was the message it carried for the reader. It pushed the boundaries of identity, truth, family, and all of the meanings and journey’s that come with those message. Honestly, it had me questioning a lot about myself and my own life; if a book is able to do that for me, that’s how I know it is well written and powerful. I don’t want to explore this area too much more, due to not wanting to spoil anything, but the themes used were probably my favorite part of the entire novel.

If you do read this novel, I highly recommend reading the acknowledgements at the end of the book. Now, I’m a lazy reader and writer and I usually don’t read that page, but when it comes to this novel, I feel that it’s important that you get to see the meaning and purpose behind this novel through reading that short page and a half.

What are your thoughts and feelings about the book? Did you enjoy it?

*****

“There is strength in forgiveness.”
― Ellen Hopkins, The You I’ve Never Known

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