After reading the book Impulse by Ellen Hopkins I couldn’t help but think this. The book, with vivid characters written in verse novel, (written in poetry form rather than prose) delves into the lives of maturing teenagers in a mental ward sounding like a nice thirst-quenching retirement home: Aspen Springs. The book holds the reader’s attention by switching-but staying in first person-to the thoughts of one of the three main characters: Tony, Conner, and Vanessa, all had attempted suicide. The “cure” for each involves drugs, group therapy, and individual therapy by trying to coup with the problems hidden in their past.
Ellen Hopkins has written poetry and several nonfiction novels. She explores everything from belief and belief in love to nature and nurture. The reader witnesses pain and the reason the characters may strive for it, just to feel. There is beautiful imagery and wonderful rhymes spaced throughout the book. The book Impulse has more than 600 pages! But when written with five or less stanzas a page it would take a fast reader a day and a half ride on a quiet el train to finish. Hopkins is great with not only descriptive imagery, but conversations and flashbacks to painful memories in the characters past as they try to change themselves in the present. Try.
And why I began with thinking perfection is ugly, is because of the strive in some of the character’s lives to be perfect and perfect in the way others want them to be. Some strive for perfection without wondering what that would entail and what cost that may come by. If one strives to do what they love and achieve what they want, then maybe that is perfect, perfectly understanding one self and their place in this world.
Ellen Hopkins has written other verse novels and New York Times Bestsellers like: Crank, Glass, and Identical; and also Burned and Tricks. She has a way with words and the form on the page like that only seen in writers when they try a new style, but this she is mastering and exploring as she goes.
Impulse is a brutally graphic and beautifully constructed long short story that discomforts the reader when in the mental ward, and yet that sickening prison becomes a home where all are accepted for being fucked up and not just pretending they aren’t messed up. Again, it is a quick and beautiful read, I highly recommend it! In two weeks check for my review of Aristotle’s Politics.