4.6 803
by Ellen Hopkins

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

Three lives, three different paths to the same destination: Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital for those who have attempted the ultimate act -- suicide.

Vanessa is beautiful and smart, but her secrets keep her answering the call of the blade.

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

Three lives, three different paths to the same destination: Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital for those who have attempted the ultimate act -- suicide.

Vanessa is beautiful and smart, but her secrets keep her answering the call of the blade.

Tony, after suffering a painful childhood, can only find peace through pills.

And Conner, outwardly, has the perfect life. But dig a little deeper and find a boy who is in constant battle with his parents, his life, himself.

In one instant each of these young people decided enough was enough. They grabbed the blade, the bottle, the gun -- and tried to end it all. Now they have a second chance, and just maybe, with each other's help, they can find their way to a better life -- but only if they're strong and can fight the demons that brought them here in the first place.

Editorial Reviews

Aspen Springs Psychiatric Hospital is a place for people who have played the ultimate endgame. The suicide attempt survivors portrayed in this novel tell starkly different stories, but these three embattled teens share a desperate need for a second chance. Ellen Hopkins, the author of Glass and Crank, presents another jarring, ultimately uplifting story about young people crawling back from a precipice.

Product Details

Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 2.00(d)
HL680L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


By Ellen Hopkins

Margaret K. McElderry

Copyright © 2007 Ellen Hopkins
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781416903567

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.



separate highways

intersect at a place

no reasonable person

would ever want to go.


lives that would have

been cut short, if not

for hasty interventions

by loved ones. Or Fate.


people, with nothing

at all in common

except age, proximity,

and a wish to die.


tapestries, tattered

at the edges and come

unwoven to reveal

a single mutual thread.

The Thread


you could turn off

the questions, turn

off the voices,

turn off allsound.


to close out

the ugliness, close

out the filthiness,

close out all light.


to cast away

yesterday, cast

away memory,

cast away all jeopardy.


you could somehow stop

the uncertainty, somehow

stop the loathing,

somehow stop the pain.



The glass doors swing open,

in perfect sync, precisely

timed so you don't have

to think. Just stroll right in.

I doubt it's quite as easy

to turn around and walk

back outside, retreat to

unstable ground. Home turf.

An orderly escorts me down

spit-shined corridors, past

tinted Plexiglas and closed,

unmarked doors. Mysteries.

One foot in front of the other,

counting tiles on the floor so

I don't have to focus the blur

of painted smiles, fake faces.

A mannequin in a tight blue

suit, with a too-short skirt

(and legs that can wear it),

in a Betty Boop voice halts us.

I'm Dr. Boston. Welcome to

Aspen Springs. I'll give you

the tour. Paul, please take his

things to the Redwood Room.

Aspen Springs. Redwood Room.

As if this place were a five-star

resort, instead of a lockdown

where crazies pace. Waiting.

At Least

It doesn't have a hospital

stink. Oh yes, it's all very

clean, from cafeteria chairs

to the bathroom sink. Spotless.

But the clean comes minus

the gag-me smell, steeping

every inch of that antiseptic

hell where they excised

the damnable bullet. I

wonder what Dad said when

he heard I tried to put myself

six feet under -- and failed.

I should have put the gun

to my head, worried less

about brain damage, more

about getting dead. Finis.

Instead, I decided a shot

through the heart would

make it stop beating, rip

it apart to bleed me out.

I couldn't even do that

right. The bullet hit bone,

left my heart in one piece.

In hindsight, luck wasn't

with me that day. Mom

found me too soon, or my

pitiful life might have ebbed

to the ground in arterial flow.

I thought she might die too,

at the sight of so much blood

and the thought of it staining

her white Armani blouse.

Conner, what have you done?

she said. Tell me this was just

an accident. She never heard

my reply, never shed a tear.

I Don't Remember

Much after that, except

for speed. Ghostly red lights,

spinning faster and faster,

as I began to recede from

consciousness. Floating

through the ER doors,

frenzied motion. A needle's

sting. But I do remember,

just before the black hole

swallowed me, seeing Mom's

face. Her furious eyes

followed me down into sleep.

It's a curious place, the

Land of Blood Loss and

Anesthesia, floating through it

like swimming in sand. Taxing.

After a while, you think you

should reach for the shimmering

surface. You can't hold your

breath, and even if you could,

it's dark and deep and bitter

cold, where nightmares and truth

collide, and you wonder if death

could unfold fear so real. Palpable.

So you grope your way up into

the light, to find you can't

move, with your arms strapped

tight and overflowing tubes.

And everything hits you like

a train at full speed. Voices.

Strange faces. A witches' stewpot

of smells. Pain. Most of all,



Just Saw

A new guy check in. Tall,

built, with a way fine face,

and acting too tough to tumble.

He's a nutshell asking to crack.

Wonder if he's ever let a guy

touch that pumped-up bod.

They gave him the Redwood

Room. It's right across

from mine -- the Pacific

Room. Pretty peaceful in

here most of the time, long

as my meds are on time.

Ha. Get it? Most of the time


if my meds are on time. If you

don't get it, you've never

been in a place like this,

never hung tough from one

med call till the next.

Wasted. That's the only way

to get by in this "treatment

center." Nice name for a loony

bin. Everyone in here is crazy

one way or another. Everyone.

Even the so-called doctors.

Most of 'em are druggies.

Fucking loser meth freaks.

I mean, if you're gonna

purposely lose your mind,

you want to get it back some

day. Don't you? Okay, maybe not.

I Lost My Mind

A long time ago, but it

wasn't exactly my idea.

Shit happens, as they say,

and my shit literally hit

the fan. But enough sappy

crap. We were talking drugs.

I won't tell you I never tried

crystal, but it really wasn't

my thing. I saw enough

people, all wound up, drop

over the edge, that I guess

I decided not to take that leap.

I always preferred creeping

into a giant, deep hole where

no bad feelings could follow.

At least till I had to come up

for air. I diddled with pot first, but

that tasty green weed couldn't drag

me low enough. Which mostly

left downers, "borrowed" from

medicine cabinets and kitchen

cabinets and nightstands.

Wherever I could find them.

And once in a while -- not often,

because it was pricey and tough

to score -- once in a while, I

tumbled way low, took a ride

on the H train. Oh yeah,

that's what I'm talking about.

A hot shot clear to hell.

Copyright © 2007 by Ellen Hopkins


Excerpted from Impulse by Ellen Hopkins Copyright © 2007 by Ellen Hopkins. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Impulse 4.6 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 803 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Vanessa was a troubled beauty, Conner was a depressed hunk, and Tony was the childhood disaster. Different lives but all similar pasts. Drawn together at Aspen Springs by a tragic choice of suicide from hate, love, depression, and the thrust to die. During their stay at Aspen Springs, they will have to face their past and their deep dark secrets of death, family, and longing heart for the gone loved ones. Inside the walls of Aspen Springs a different life arouses for the better or the worst for Vanessa, Tony, and Conner. Knowing the truth of them selves will soon be discovered.
Ellen Hopkins has a unique style of writing that had me hypnotized through out the book. I could not put the book down when I started. Instead of reading page after page full of text, Hopkins writes the story beautifully and poetically. I, myself never knew how poetry could tell such an invigorating story. I fell in love with the characters and their story. The story flowed wonderfully through out. "Impulse" was an insightful for teen depression and what goes through their head.
If you like a new experience in reading Ellen Hopkins has written it for you. With her intriguing way of writing will have you mesmerized. I recommend this book AND MY OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS to young adult reader over the age of 14. People with a creative mind set will enjoy this book.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Three troubled teens cross paths at Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital, after attempting suicide. Connor, Tony, and Vanessa all have demons that try to pull them under and get them to succumb to the temptation to try it again; this time making sure they succeed.

Connor's overbearing family, only concerned about his GPA, or his making the varsity football team, or getting into an Ivy League college, offer no solace during his time of need. Feeling suicide is the only answer after a deeply emotional love affair ends, he takes a gun and points it to his chest before pulling the trigger.

Tony, after many years in a juvenile home for a crime that still haunts him, decides to ease his feelings of despair and loneliness by swallowing a handful of pills, only to vomit them up and be found by the police lying on the sidewalk unconscious.

Vanessa is a cutter. In order to ease her mind in any time of stress she slices her skin with anything sharp enough to do the job. One day, when she was drowning in her blue ocean of sadness, she cuts too deep. She feels herself slipping into the abyss until her younger brother, Bryan, walks in and finds her. When he calls for their ex-nurse Grandma, she is able to hold off death.

After arriving at Aspen Springs, Connor, Tony, and Vanessa are introduced to a life under constant surveillance, strict routines, and hours and hours or counseling. Immediately the three form a bond, feeling drawn to one another as if they might be able to save each other from death. Together they navigate the regulations of the hospital and make progress toward healing as they tell each other their deepest, darkest secrets; things they won't even tell their counselors.

Ellen Hopkins uses her wonderful free verse style to weave together the story of three troubled teens as they attempt to heal the terrible scars left by their lives. The consistency the author uses when alternating the points of view makes the story easy to follow. Hopkins gives away just enough information that the reader feels a part of the story while still saving a big bang for the end. IMPULSE is a great story that reveals the importance of family during the healing process and is a must read for anyone who knows a teen.
KK17 More than 1 year ago
I had just gotten the book a couple of days ago because one of my friends said it was really good i read the back and thought why not get that one! Ive read many other books be ellen including crank, glass, and burned which were all very good. I got this book and could not stop reading it i was drawn to it ! I faced so many emotions reading this book sadness sorrow forgivness happiness and many more! I hope that anyone that has doubts about this book reads it b/c its worth it! Rock on Ellen!
Nadia521 More than 1 year ago
This was by far one of my favorite books by Ellen Hopkins. It was emotionally provoking and I really felt for the characters. I loved Tony and Conner, so the ending really dissappointed me. The vocabulary was intense because these 3 teens were so poetic. I guess it comes with being a suicidal emo kid. They all have great obstacles to over come in the healing center they were in for trying to do themselves in. Tony, a spunky orientally confused kid had a smart mouth. He was someone who would love to see you smile even when he was feeling bad. Vanessa, she was a sweet girl. Bi-polar and schzophrenic by birth her problems were understandable. On top of that she had to watch her mother die. That's crazy. And Conner, who was pushed to perfection by the comparisons between him and his twin sister. His mother is a cold person and she really got on my nerves. But all and all, crazy, tear jerking ending and everything else in between, this story was definately one of the best I've ever read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel is one of the first I've read from Hopkins, and I'm glad i finally picked this book up from the shelf and read it. I loved it personally, because I am a huge fan of poetry, and this book uses a lot of cascading, poetic lines. This book hit me emotionally like a big fat blow to the chest. I cried, yeah, but that's what makes you really love a book - when you care for the characters as if they were people you knew and loved. If you like poetry, or just something different in general, then I toooootally recommend this book. If you like to read about drama, romance, and teens who find their inner-selves, then this book will be a great read for you! =]
bookworm73MC More than 1 year ago
i love ellen hopkins to death and she made me cry... again. its kinda scary how she can think of all these characters and what their problems are. Some parts are kind of slow( like Connors point of view.) but this book is very realistic and i recommended it to all my friends who like reading things like this. I love you Ellen and keep on writing amazing books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
as stated previously there aren't many books that i want to read over and over again. this isn't a lame thrill that lasts for 10 minutes, this book really makes me take a second look at everything. the characters, Connor, Tony, and Vanessa, all make what they did to themselves seem logical... almost. they are all crazy and amazingly sane simultaneously. the book is a surprisingly quick read, simply because Ellen Hopkins writes in stanzas, so her books just looks huge. i'd reccomend this to anyone who likes the more emotional subjects, yes this book has its funny points, but its always brought right back down to earth, even the ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the crappiest book ever. I thought that this book was going to be good. But now i understand the cliched saying "never judge a book buy its cover". If you love crappy fake poetic diaries this story's for you, but if not.... dont waste your time or your money on this rip off. —ODd
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is about how teens that need help after trying to kill them selfs or other go to aspen springs. One of the main characters fall in love with a "Gay" boy and he also likes her but conner another main character likes her. In each of the characters life storys some come from a decent home while others never met onn of the parents. Vanessa lives with her grandma and brother but the docter said she has bipolar desiese so she has to get better.. when these three kids go on a hike conner makes the wrong decision that changes everyones life ..
MicheleLeesBookLove More than 1 year ago
Reviewed for Monster Librarian as part of Banned Books Week Floored, that's how readers will feel only part of the way into this breathtaking tale of three teens in a mental care center after each has attempted suicide. While the book is large, 666 pages, it's written in poetry form so it reads fast. The terrible story of how these three kids, who should be enjoying the last years of high school, ended up where they are is boiled down to terse, powerful visuals that will leave readers feeling scarred. That said I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It puts adults into the head space of serious teen suffering and offers teen a real, honest look at how addiction, parasitic relationships and mental disorders (like depression and bipolar) work and manages to wash it all with a message of sympathy and solidarity. There are an increasing number of books out there designed to help parents and teens understand and cope with the real big problems that seem to be popping up more in life. But none that I've read have been as real as Impulse. It skips clinical altogether and puts the reader directly into the character's heads, slowly revealing their lives, even as they themselves face up to the significance of things. Few books are must reads in the large scope of fiction, but for teens and even parents suffering from or seeking to support someone who struggles with these issues Impulse is must-read. Nothing else crosses the barrier between "normal" and not with such strength and odd beauty. Impulse simply should be available in all public collections. Contains: references to sex, addiction, self mutilation, suicide, language
Brenda53 More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing. Vanessa, Tony, and Conner are the most complex and deep characters. Vanessa is a cutter, but she doesn't just do it because she is a crazy bipolar girl. She does it because she feels like its the only thing she can do the only thing in her life she can control.Tony's story is the most heartbreaking. Even though he has had a hard life he is still the sweetest guy in the world. Conner is the golden boy. But this book let you know what life is like at home for the golden boy. It shows you just how cruel and cold some parents can be. Conner's mom is the picture of the ice queen she is cold and heartless. When all three of these charter's paths cross is when they are sent to Aspen Springs, a mental institute for kids and teens.They meet and they all become friends. Through each other they learn how to open up their hearts and love. Their stories are real and heartbreaking, but also exciting and full of emotion. At the end of the story an event occurs that leaves you completely shocked. Impulse is definitely Ellen Hopkins best book. She is a very talented author and all her skills are used to create these three amazing charters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Combine a splash of suicide, a tablespoon of mental diseases, and cup of poetry and you get the wonderful, dark novel, Impulse. This book is geared towards young adults though can be thoroughly enjoyed by adults as well. Between the hints of drug use, the attempted suicide, and stories of sexual intercourse this book is unfit for younger readers. Taking the wonder of poetry and intertwining it with the passion of a novel you'll get Ellen Hopkins style of writing. Bringing in the passion of a teenager with the knowledge of an adult you'll find that she can combine skills and story lines to find a true passion. Impulse brings us into a world of disorder, a world of confusion; our three main characters find themselves in Aspen Springs, a rehabilitation center for suicidal patients. Each character, having attempted suicide and failed, has no desire to continue living, no will power to push them through. Slowly through therapy and budding friendships they come to the realization that life is worth living, love is worth searching for and that they too can have a desire to live. This book simply must be read; it combines internal conflict with mental disorders and thrusts you into a world most people can't even imagine. Vanessa, the main character faces the challenge of a mother catatonic in the hospital, a father in the military and being raised by her grandmother. As she finds herself growing more like her mother she becomes worried. If there's one thing she's learned from her mother it's, you don't want to get lost in the 'blue' days. But these very challenges build her true strength. Her mother's past and her grandmother's love for her helps her to find the determination to push through, the determination to overcome her maniac, bipolar disease. Impulse is based around Vanessa's internal conflict, her dealing with her past, her disease, her learning to love herself, her discovery of love from another. Taking all aspects of this torn girl's life and thrusting them into the forefront of her mind the doctors are able to give her the tools to overcome herself, the question simply is will she do it? Impulse has the most beautiful ending. It leaves the reader both satisfied and mystified. It fulfills the reader's need for a happy ending and closure, while still leaving them heartbroken and providing an opening for imagination to continue the story. It doesn't spend chapters slowly explaining how the story ends. It simply leaves you wondering, leaves you with; 'the perfect paper airplane'.
mysocalledgothlife More than 1 year ago
This book takes things from a important view.I love all the characters in this book,they make the story non-stop readable.In the end I learned from this book.It is a great read.
miguelquintero More than 1 year ago
This book was just so good! You honestly DO NOT want to put it down! The characters are really cool and it's just a GREAT stroy! This book should deff become a movie, it would be an awesome movie! I'd get it on DVD for sure! Lol But yeah, just an amazing book and the ending is so intense! Great book :D
I-LuV-mY-kIwI More than 1 year ago
this book is about three people who meet in a mental institution, because they've all attempted suicide. this book jumps back and forth into the minds of the three characters, Vanessa, Tony, and Connor.As the story skips from character to character, it slowly reveals reasons behind each of the characters' attempts and emotions about everything they're going through. the story ultimately ends in tony and Vanessa finding love in each other, and Connor succeeding in killing himself. it was a very sad story, typical of Ellen Hopkins work, and over all a great story.
-hellokitty More than 1 year ago
Forget how many pages there are, you'll only wanting more. For me, this was the one book I NEEDED in my life. It helped me in a rough patch in my life (woah, kinda cheesy there, huh?). Ellen Hopkins has an amazing talent for capturing feelings into words and fleshing them out through her characters. Her characters aren't cookie-cutter perfect either: they're real. Real with problems, with fears, with EMOTIONS. They grab you by the heartstrings and make you actually CARE for them. If that's not real writing, then I don't know what is.
bb328 More than 1 year ago
I usually can not stand offbeat, weird writing styles. But Ellen Hopkins is wonderful. Her writing just lets the story flow along, making the book impossible to put down. HIGHLY recommend this book.
J.R._BookWorm More than 1 year ago
...that's really all I can say... This book was amazing! All books by Ellen Hopkins are amazing, and so real... I love Tony!!!! He's POV was the one I wanted to read more of! lol... Anyway...on a sad note someone um- well I don't want to give it a way but...someone- uh!!! I wish I could say but I can't unless I runin the end, and I wouldn't! If you want something edgy with a lot of emotion, and a lot of realisim then this book is for you...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i absolutely LOVED this book!! it felt so real. you connect with the characters, you feel for them, you laugh, you cry, the whole enchilada. i totally recommend this book to anyone. especially teens.
lil-miss-alisha More than 1 year ago
So this book was basically about three troubled teens in rehab. Through out the book there were four different points of view. There was the narrator in the beginning, then Conner, Tony, and Vanessa. They all pretty much tried to kill themselves. Conner is this super smart, rich, athletic hottie! Tony was the awkward, gay, questioned his life guy. Then there's Vanessa, poor, little, addicted to cutting her self Vanessa. In the rehab they have to reach certain levels to recieve certain privilages. When they get to level four, after going home and confronting their family they can go on a survival trip. Before all that happens Vanessa falls in love with Conner and lusts for him. Then the tables get turned and Tony (thought to be gay) falls for her. When she realizes this they fall in love. Conner stops taking his depression medication, which is not so smart. So things get all complicated and your emotions get jerked! So read this to feel how I feel, disappointed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book gave me chills through all of the thrilling pages. Every chapter you read gave you the suspicion of what is going to happen next, which made you want to read on to see what happens. I love that. It is an amazing story that leaves you on the edge of yur seat throughout the entire story. And make sure you finish it too, there is something that happes at the end you do not want to miss.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a remarkable book about the struggles of three teenage kids. Everybody has problems and roadblocks in their lives, but probably not as painful as Tony's, Vanessa¿s, and Connors. They all have to find a way to come together in Aspen Springs and deal with the monsters inside them. Tony is a loving caring person who cheers all his friends up when they are feeling low, but behind his cheerful façade he holds onto dark secrets of drug addiction and sexual abuse. Vanessa is a beautiful girl who also carries something she doesn¿t want anyone to know and that is self mutilation. Connor is a rich, smart, good looking guy who everybody thought had something going for him. Little did everybody know he held a painful secret as well. His secret was his attempt to kill himself and his affair with an older woman.
Ellen Hopkins really did a good job with writing this book. She was able to create each characters personal struggle into self determination and hope. One minute you are in Tony's world then next you might be in Connors or Vanessa¿s. Each character has a personality and struggle of their own yet Hopkins is able to bring them together to help one another fight their battles. I think the book was very engaging; I couldn¿t put the book down. Each part of her story led to the reasons why each character did what they did. I feel she wrote the book because she wanted people to know that you are not alone with the struggles and conflicts you might face in the world. I would recommend this book to anyone willing to read about deep personal struggles.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Impulse, written by Ellen Hopkins is an outstanding novel about life, health, and love. Three teens dwelling on losses try to commit suicide. All three meet when they all end up in a menatl institution called Aspen Springs.Tony,being gay is in denial wether he is or not. Vanessa, a emtional girl who find commfort through cutting herself. And Connor, a impeccable athlete who is heart broken over his teachers fling. The three soon find themselves in an adventure in which they soon question wether they have ever even felt love. The ending is very original and well thought out. I loved how many of there problems helped them understand themselves. I definetly reccomend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A gripping story about three teens with different backgrounds and aspects on life. All have one desire in common to end all their troubles by ending their lives. Connor, Tony, and Vanessa all attempt to commit suicide and fail, which then leads them a mental institution, Aspen Springs. Through their stay they face many laughs, tears,and regrets. All three meet and share their stories. The ending very surprising and original. A great story which makes you think about love, life, and values. A story I definitely recommend by far I would say its one of my favorite books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Apen Springs is were three complete strangers come together to help eachother get better after trying to end there lives. Everything in the 'hospital' is completely safe, well as safe at they can make it. There are three levels that will determin how much privliges you get and how much closer you are to getting out. Aspen Springs is a mental institution. There are three main characters Conner, Tony, and Vanessa. All three of them have attempted to commit suicide but have all failed. Tony tryed to overdose on sleeping pills, Conner tryed to kill himself with a gun, and Vanessa slit her wrist. Vanessa doesn't talk at all, the other girls in Aspen Springs call her 'ST' for silent treatment. Tony becomes best friends with Vanessa.Conner talks but is very sarcastic most of the time. 'I was just thinking about who would care if I killed myself. I never thought about anyone else when I tried before. Of corse, I didn't really have anyone to think about then. Ma was gone, not that she would have given a fraction of a damn. Phillip was gone, and Pa was just a memory. And I didn't know you. Would you care, really care?' 'Vanessa' This is a quote of the story that I think had a big impact on how I felt about the book. To me it ment that they were all good friends and that they have all some how helped eachother get though the worst parts. This book doesn't relate to my life at all but books like this remind me on how crazy life can be. I strongly agree with the meaning of the story and how it makes you think.