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The You I've Never Known

The You I've Never Known

4.5 2
by Ellen Hopkins

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 10/24/2016
Once again tackling difficult subject matter through elegantly crafted free verse, Hopkins (Traffick) tells the story of 17-year-old Ariel; her father, Mark; and Maya, also 17, who jumps into a relationship with an older man to escape her mother. Mark is an alcoholic drifter, prone to angry and violent outbursts. He has finally settled down long enough for Ariel to finish an entire school year in Sonora, Calif., where Ariel has allowed herself to develop real friendships and even consider the possibility of finding love. Hopkins uses spare yet poignant language to convey Ariel’s simultaneous joy and fear as she begins to explore her sexuality (“the need to embrace/ this part of myself/ is escalating”) while dealing with an abusive, homophobic, and controlling parent. Maya, whose chapters are written in first-person prose, intersects with Mark and Ariel’s lives in an unexpected way, deepening the story’s exploration of identity. Hopkins creates a satisfying and moving story, and her carefully structured poems ensure that each word and phrase is savored. Ages 14–up. Agent: Laura Rennert, Andrea Brown Literary. (Jan.)
"With trademark compassion, multidimensional characters, realistic teen behavior, and a slew of issues sympathetically explored, Hopkins has another winner here."
Justine Magazine
A powerful, memorable and honest look at how two girls navigate their troubled home lives. Ellen Hopkins once again reminds us why she’s in a class all to herself—the gorgeous prose, the painfully authentic characters and their struggle to find where to fit in and how to be loved. No surprise . . . this book is beautiful and unforgettable!”
“Writing in verse (Ariel’s tale) and prose (Maya’s), Hopkins uses skillful pacing and carefully chosen words to conceal the most important truth of the novel. The reveal arrives just as readers may be putting the pieces together themselves. VERDICT A sharp, gripping read sure to please Hopkins’s legions of fans.”
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Ariel and her father, an abusive, homophobic alcoholic, never stay in one place very long. Miraculously, though, they have spent Ariel's entire junior year in Sonora, CA, and she hopes that, for once, they can stick around. Here, she has finally experienced a bit of stability and made friends. She has also begun to explore her sexuality with both new guy Gabe and Monica, her "queer Mexican American" best friend. Ariel keeps her feelings for Monica from her father, who never lets her forget that her mother left them when Ariel was two to "run off with her lesbian lover." The teen longs to break free from her father's control and be herself—whoever that is. Seventeen-year-old Maya, a Texan whose cold and abusive mother is increasingly involved in Scientology, seeks escape, too, and she finds it when she meets Jason, 10 years her senior; gets pregnant; and marries. But Jason has an escape plan of his own, one that will bring Ariel's and Maya's stories together in a startling way. Themes of identity, family, and truth are interrogated as readers slowly learn more about Ariel and Maya. Writing in verse (Ariel's tale) and prose (Maya's), Hopkins uses skillful pacing and carefully chosen words to conceal the most important truth of the novel. The reveal arrives just as readers may be putting the pieces together themselves. VERDICT A sharp, gripping read sure to please Hopkins's legions of fans.—Amanda MacGregor, formerly at Great River Regional Library, Saint Cloud, MN
Kirkus Reviews
One teen yearns for roots while another will do anything for a fresh start. Seventeen-year-old white Ariel has been in Sonora, California, for 15 months, and she's soaking up the stability. Her whole life, she's moved quickly from town to town as alcoholic Dad flits from woman to woman, claiming he was born "infected / with wanderlust." He abuses and gaslights her. He has a "greedy grasp" and would never allow Ariel to date a boy, let alone allow her—his white daughter—to date her best friend, Monica, a Mexican-American lesbian. Dad's racist, and to him, "queer equals vile" because Ariel's mother left them for a woman when Ariel was 2 and hasn't been heard from since. Yet Ariel's falling for both Monica and a boy named Gabe. In another thread, 17-year-old Maya, also white, plans to prevent her abusive mother from trapping her in Scientology's paramilitary training arm by getting pregnant by a 27-year-old man she meets in a bar so he'll marry her. Ariel's sections are free verse (Hopkins' specialty), their fragmentation symbolizing and mirroring the fragmentation in Ariel's history. Maya's sections are prose; the prose itself flows capably, but the variation from Hopkins' signature format doesn't contribute anything particular. Faraway characters in Hopkins books often come together, but Maya and Ariel's connection is among Hopkins' best. A page-turning exploration of independence, powerlessness, and secrets, with groundbreaking representation of bisexuality and queerness. (Verse fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.80(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

The You I’ve Never Known

I Can’t Remember

Every place

Dad and I have

called home. When

I was real little, the two

of us sometimes lived in

our car. Those memories

are in motion. Always moving.

I don’t think

I minded it so much

then, though mixed in

with happy recollections

are snippets of intense fear.

I didn’t dare ask why one stretch

of sky wasn’t good enough to settle

under. My dad

likes to say he came

into this world infected

with wanderlust. He claims

I’m lucky, that at one day till

I turn seventeen I’ve seen way

more places than most folks see

in an entire

lifetime. I’m sure

he’s right on the most

basic level, and while I

can’t dig up snapshots of

North Dakota, West Virginia, or

Nebraska, how could I ever forget

watching Old

Faithful spouting

way up into the bold

amethyst Yellowstone sky,

or the granddaddy alligator

ambling along beside our car

on a stretch of Everglade roadway?

I’ve inhaled

heavenly sweet

plumeria perfume,

dodging pedicab traffic

in the craziness of Waikiki.

I’ve picnicked in the shadows

of redwoods older than the rumored

son of God;

nudged up against

the edge of the Grand

Canyon as a pair of eagles

played tag in the warm air

currents; seen Atlantic whales

spy-hop; bodysurfed in the Pacific;

and picked spring-

inspired Death Valley

wildflowers. I’ve listened

to Niagara Falls percussion,

the haunting song of courting

loons. So I guess my dad is right.

I’m luckier than a whole lot of people.

Meet the Author

Ellen Hopkins is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of eleven young adult novels, as well as the adult novels Triangles, Collateral, and Love Lies Beneath. She lives with her family in Carson City, Nevada, where she has founded Ventana Sierra, a nonprofit youth housing and resource initiative. Visit her at EllenHopkins.com and on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter at @EllenHopkinsLit.

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The You I've Never Known 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
TheThoughtSpot 26 days ago
The You I've Never Known by Ellen Hopkins confronts many difficult and possibly controversial circumstances. A young woman lives with her father, but they never stay in one place very long. Ariel loves her father when he isn't drinking or being too overprotective. Other times he is abusive and angry. Ariel and her father finally stay in one place for an entire school year and she makes friends that she feels comfortable with. She is struggling with her sexuality because her father has always claimed that her mother is a lesbian. Ariel isn't sure about what she wants or who she wants it with. Another story is being told alternately with Ariel's. Maya also struggles with family situations and friendships. The stories of these two young women hold a strong, emotional mystery that knocked my socks off! In Ellen Hopkins standard writing, the mystery unfolds. 4 stars for an emotional book full of growth!
Reading_With_Cupcakes 24 days ago
The You I've Never Known is probably my favorite Ellen Hopkins book that I have read so far. I really think that she knocked this one out of the park. The You I've Never Known is mostly told from Ariel's perspective. She is a 17 year old girl who has lived pretty much her entire life moving from one place to another with her dad. At times he would find a lady friend to live with for a short amount of time and other times they would just live out of the car. Ariel's mother abandoned her and her father to be with her girl friend and gave up on them, so she has been out of Ariel's life for a very very long time. At the point in her life that this story occurs though, Ariel and her father have finally put down some temporary roots in California. Ariel is finally at a place in her life where she can let herself start to have friends and to find who she really is. And that brings us to one of the big questions that Ariel looks to solve during the course of this story. Who she is, especially when it comes to her sexual identity. Is she into men? Is she into women? Is she into both? Can she be bisexual? Is that even a possibility? And The You I've Never Known follows along with Ariel while she ponders these questions and works to discover herself and the answers to these questions....and more. So much more. Along with having Ariel's story, we also get a few "journal entries" from a girl named Maya. Maya is trying to navigate life and get away from her abusive mother. Oh my goodness guys. My mind is still reeling from reading this. I cannot stop thinking about it. There is just so much in this book! Discovering oneself, sexual identity, abuse, and more. It is a really hard hitting read. I had to put the book down on more than one occasion because there were points that were tough for me to get through and I had to take the extra time to digest what I had just read. However, I could never put it down for very long because I just had to know what was going to happen next! I will say that while I felt very invested in Ariel, that I didn't find myself drawn too much to the other characters. The only exception of this was Maya. It is probably because most of this story is about Ariel and told by Ariel. So it is like you are in her mind. It doesn't allow us to really get to know other characters all that deeply, but it does really let us get to know Ariel. And I really liked getting to know Ariel. I guess it doesn't really need to be said since this is an Ellen Hopkins book, but just in case you are new to her books... like the rest of her books there are some definite trigger warnings. Domestic abuse and child abuse are two very strong topics for this book...and alcohol consumption. Also, Ariel's father is very anti LGBTQIA and feel that should be noted. It is part of Ariel's story though, but I just wanted readers to be aware of it. Like I said in the beginning of my review, I really enjoyed The You I've Never Known. It found myself very pulled in and rooting for Ariel to find her true self. I am glad I read it and didn't put it off! This review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone. Find more of my reviews here: http://readingwithcupcakes.blogspot.com/
Anonymous 25 days ago
Awful horribill