In this companion to Hopkins’s adult book, Triangles (2011), the author offers a gripping novel-in-verse about teens whose lives shift dramatically because of sex. High school junior Mikayla is in love, but her relationship with her boyfriend is tested when she gets pregnant. Shane, 16, is dating a boy with HIV and coping with his four-year-old sister’s incurable illness. Harley, a freshman, starts experimenting with drinking and drugs, as an older boy pressures her to have sex. Readers unfamiliar with Triangles may have trouble tracking the characters’ interlinked relationships, but Hopkins’s many fans will find plenty of authenticity, especially in Harley’s story (“I’m Running/ With a fast crowd and I’m not/ sure how I got here... I never expected to go/ this far”), and appreciate the author’s clever touches (the closing words/lines of the three narrators’ sections lead into single-page poems from the POV of other key characters). While these stories are not quite as compelling as those in Hopkins’s previous books, readers will likely move through this installment just as quickly. Ages 14–up. Agent: Laura Rennert, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Sept)
From the Publisher
"This will be recognizable territory to anyone who has read Hopkins’ earlier novels. . . . As a cautionary tale, however, this offers helpful insights into the continuing presence of HIV in teen lives and the urgency of making better choices in matters involving sex."Booklist
"Brimming with shoes about to drop (some do, some don’t) and the drama her fans devour . . ."Kirkus Reviews
The Horn Book Guide
"By turns poised and visceral."
"Graphic, bitingly honest, and voluminous verse."
VOYA - Beth Karpas
This novel-in-verse switches voice from one poem to the next, from the four-year-old girl who cannot speak, to the twenty-something accompanying her mother to meet a sister she never knew. Most, however, are teenagers: the gay boy, his teen lover, the pregnant girl, her lover, her sister, her best friend, the boy trying to steal her virginity, and on. Some have one poem which furthers the plot as it inexorably follows their lives. Some have many poems, central characters whose internal thoughts are as much the engine of the story as their actions. One would think the range of characters would be enough of a challenge, but the author also tackles a wide range of traditional teen fiction dramas: teen pregnancy, HIV, illness, adoption, physical abuse, sexual abuse, divorce, rape, stepfamilies, abortion, religion, death. And yet somehow, everything flows together. What should feel like a contrived soap opera, feels realsad, sorrowful, but very real. The "tilt" of the title may refer to this book's position as a companion novel to the author's adult book, Triangles. It may also refer to the way the reader feels, as she is tilted from one story to the next through the poems. It also refers to the physical construction of some outstanding poems in the book, ones which can be read linearly, but which have some words pulled out of lines, to be read vertically for yet another view. This is a long book, but the poetry makes the pages fly, and it is well worth buying, reading, and sharing. Reviewer: Beth Karpas
Children's Literature - Enid Portnoy
Teens often have a difficult time expressing their emotional ups and downs, especially when they are searching for a companion to help them understand how they are feeling and reacting interpersonally. When comparing new companions with their own parents’ choices for a mate, the differences may be confusing. This book is a collection of adolescent writings about the difficult and often stressful decisions teens make in their search for a compassionate person to help them find the right answers. They experience love and loss, pats and blows to their egos and desires. Parents might want to read this thick book before handing it over to their adolescents. Many of the situations and feelings discussed may be tough to confront. Topics include school problems, student-teacher relationships, grievances about parents, and getting in trouble with the law. As one student suggests, it is not possible to fix some of the relationships, but this book may help start a discussion of delicate and private feelings related to relationships and how to handle them. The book is written in a poetic style, yet it does not mince words to give readers a sense of the deep pain young people often feel. The book is a companion to Hopkins’ TRIANGLES. It is narrated by three young teenagers dealing with such topics as teen pregnancy, adoption, and chronic illness. A reading group guide is included as an addendum, to encourage libraries and reading groups to invite teenagers to speak and listen to each other. The book is not for the faint of heart, or for those who never thought to ask teenagers about how they view their lives. It almost feels like a private diary of three different young people whose lives are tilting. The main characters are brutally honest and direct when describing their intimate problems which appear to be insurmountable. Reviewer: Enid Portnoy; Ages 14 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—A companion to Triangles (Atria, 2012), Hopkins's recent foray into adult publishing, Tilt fleshes out the stories of the children of Marissa, Andrea, and Holly. Mikayla cannot imagine loving anyone more than Dylan, yet when she becomes pregnant she begins to understand the limits of that love. Shane finally feels fully himself with Alex, but when mortality bears down on him in the form of Alex's HIV and his own terminally ill sister, it all becomes overwhelming. Harley wants nothing more than to be noticed by guys, even if it turns her into someone even she can no longer recognize. In Hopkins's usual style, the characters' lives are described in graphic, bitingly honest, and voluminous verse, all attributes her fans have come to expect and love. In that regard, they won't be disappointed. Yet this title might not work quite as seamlessly for those who chose not to follow her into the realm of midlife issues in Triangles. The mothers' stories weave in and out frequently enough to impact the narrative, yet because they are not fully developed here, they lend a feeling of loose ends hanging in the background. Ultimately, though, readers will care most about the clear, anguished voices of the teens.—Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ
Less artistically sharp than most of her oeuvre, this newest from Hopkins will nonetheless hook fans with its addictive pain and quick-turning pages. Mikayla, almost 18, sneaks out to have lots of sex with her boyfriend. Shane, 16, falls for his first boyfriend, who's HIV-positive. Harley's a 13-year-old late bloomer (for this community) striving not to be. How many real issues can one book hold before soapiness ensues? Alcohol, drugs, rape, infidelity, emotional disconnection, terminal illness, homophobia, teen pregnancy--etc. Threads among the three protagonists (Shane and Harley are cousins; Harley's best friend is Mikayla's sister) expand into a web of multiple narrators from greater Reno, which dilutes focus. Conversely, it supplies a potent variety of first-person perspectives, from Shane's 4-year-old sister Shelby, unable to walk or speak because she has spinal muscular atrophy, to weed-seller Lucas, prowling for "virgin meat." Hopkins' fast-paced, free-verse poems, conveying bare shards of thought, work best for characters who are dissociated (Impulse, 2006; Identical, 2008); here, as in Perfect (2011), the characters are more bored, angry and struggling than dissociated, so the format's a mismatch for--and gives mixed messages about--their level of emotional presence. Brimming with shoes about to drop (some do, some don't) and the drama her fans devour, this will (and should) point them toward Triangles (2011), an adult-aimed version from the protagonists' mothers' perspective. Why not? (Verse fiction. 12-18)
Read an Excerpt
Completely off its axis the night
I hooked up with Dylan Douglas.
It was New Year’s Eve—five
months ago—so maybe part of that
earth-sway had something to do with
the downers, weed and cheap beer,
a dizzying combo on an empty stomach.
What I know for sure is, when he came
slinking up like a cougar—all tawny
and temperamental—something inside
me shifted. Something elemental.
I, probably the oldest prude in my whole
junior class, transformed into vamp.
When he smiled at me—me!—I knew
I had to make him mine. I would
have done anything. Turned out, all
I had to do was smile back. Just like
that, we belonged to each other.