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Tricks

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Overview

"When all choice is taken from you, life becomes a game of survival."

Five teenagers from different parts of the country. Three girls. Two guys. Four straight. One gay. Some rich. Some poor. Some from great families. Some with no one at all. All living their lives as best they can, but all searching...for freedom, safety, community, family, love. What they don't expect, though, is all that can happen when those powerful little words "I love ...

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Tricks

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Overview

"When all choice is taken from you, life becomes a game of survival."

Five teenagers from different parts of the country. Three girls. Two guys. Four straight. One gay. Some rich. Some poor. Some from great families. Some with no one at all. All living their lives as best they can, but all searching...for freedom, safety, community, family, love. What they don't expect, though, is all that can happen when those powerful little words "I love you" are said for all the wrong reasons.

Five moving stories remain separate at first, then interweave to tell a larger, powerful story — a story about making choices, taking leaps of faith, falling down, and growing up. A story about kids figuring out what sex and love are all about, at all costs, while asking themselves, "Can I ever feel okay about myself?"

A brilliant achievement from New York Times best-selling author Ellen Hopkins — who has been called "the bestselling living poet in the country" by mediabistro.com — Tricks is a book that turns you on and repels you at the same time. Just like so much of life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hopkins again tackles a serious societal problem, this time focusing on teen prostitution. Fans of her work will recognize both her signature free verses and the gritty details she weaves within them. Newcomers, however, may be shocked by the graphic depictions of five struggling teens who find themselves turning tricks (one realizes her mother has sold her “for a good time” with a stranger, while another recounts “pretending to enjoy... deviant sex” to earn the trust of a guard at an ultra-strict religious rehabilitation camp). Some plotting seems clichéd, such as the story of a preacher's daughter from Idaho, whose mother banishes her to the Tears of Zion camp after catching her with her boyfriend. While each story unfolds slowly, readers will understand the protagonists' desperation as well as their complete powerlessness once their descents have begun. Each story is unique (one teen needs money, another was thrown out because of his sexuality, still another was simply looking for love from the wrong person); while readers may connect with some characters more than others, they will long remember each painful story. Ages 14–up. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Annie Laura Smith
Five teens, three girls and two guys from quite different backgrounds face making choices and taking leaps of faith while they try to come to terms with their respective situations. As these young people fall into prostitution, they struggle with lack of self-esteem because of their failures and try to survive. This novel is written in verse and explores family and emotional problems and prostitution. It is a difficult read at times as it reflects some of life's heart-wrenching difficulties. Each teen is searching for love and a sense of belonging. Eden, Seth, Whitney, Ginger and Cody do what each one feels they must to survive. The stories of theses strangers are interwoven to tell the overall story of their plight. The author, Ellen Hopkins, has been heralded as "the bestselling living poet in the country" by mediabistro.com. It is this extraordinary poetry talent that brings this story to life and allows the reader to empathize with their heartbreaking situations. In her author's note, she explains that she wrote the books based on a statistic: the average age of a female prostitute is the United States is 12-years-old. Her story explains some of the reasons that might drive a young adult into prostitution and how they maintain their will to survive. She provides the hotline number for Children of the Night: 1-800-551-1300. This is an organization which provides resources to escape a life of prostitution. Reviewer: Annie Laura Smith
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Five teens desperately seek to find their way through the darkness in Hopkins's latest epic novel in verse. Eden flees an evangelical household; Cody blocks out a family illness with gambling and sex; Whitney gives up her body in exchange for the love she finds so elusive; Seth struggles to define himself as a homosexual; and Ginger comes to terms with an awful truth about her neglectful mother. Burden after burden piles on the teens' shoulders until they resort to the unthinkable in order to survive. As they near rock bottom, their narratives begin to intersect. It is only when their paths converge that a glimmer of redemption appears out of the hopelessness. From the punch delivered by the title, to the teens' raw voices, to the visual impact of the free verse, Hopkins once again produces a graphic, intense tale that will speak to mature teens.—Jill Heritage Maza, Greenwich High School, CT
Kirkus Reviews
Hopkins sharply portrays extreme adolescent turbulence with her biggest cast yet, as five disparate, desperate teens are sucked into the Las Vegas world of selling sex. Indiana farm boy Seth is kicked off his family's farm for being gay; optionless, he follows a controlling sugar daddy to Vegas. In Boise, Eden's first romantic relationship spurs her "hellfire-and-brimstone-preaching" Pentecostal parents to declare, "You are obviously possessed by demons," and send her to Tears of Zion reform camp, where unwilling sex is her only hope for escape. In California, Whitney craves male attention, while Ginger realizes that the rapes she's endured throughout childhood were orchestrated by her mother for cash. Cody's in Vegas, already drugging and gambling but crushed when his stepfather dies. All five are "spinning. Spiraling. Clinging to / the eye of the tornado." Hopkins's pithy free verse reveals shards of emotion and quick glimpses of physical detail. It doesn't matter that the first-person voices blur, because the stories are distinct and unmistakable. Graphic sex, rape, drugs, bitter loneliness, despair-and eventually, blessedly, glimmers of hope. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416950073
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Publication date: 8/25/2009
  • Pages: 640
  • Sales rank: 70,505
  • Age range: 14 - 18 Years
  • Lexile: HL590L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 5.70 (h) x 1.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Ellen Hopkins

Ellen Hopkinsis the #1 New York Times bestselling author of eleven young adult novels, including Smoke and Rumble, as well as the adult novels Triangles and Collateral. 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 @EllenHopkinsYA. For more information on Ventana Sierra, go to VentanaSierra.org.

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Read an Excerpt

A Poem by Eden Streit
Eyes Tell Stories

But do they know how to craft fiction? Do they know how to spin

lies?

His eyes swear forever,
flatter with vows of only me. But are they empty

promises?

I stare into his eyes, as into a crystal ball, but I cannot find forever,

only

movies of yesterday,
a sketchbook of today,
dreams of a shared

tomorrow.

His eyes whisper secrets.
But are they truths or fairy tales?
I wonder if even he

knows.

Eden
Some People

Never find the right kind of love.
You know, the kind that steals

your breath away, like diving into snowmelt.
The kind that jolts your heart,

sets it beating apace, an anxious hiccuping of hummingbird wings.

The kind that makes every terrible minute apart feel like hours. Days.

Some people flit from one possibility to the next, never experiencing the incredible

connection of two people, rocked by destiny.
Never knowing what it means to love

someone else more than themselves.
More than life itself, or the promise

of something better, beyond this world.
More, even (forgive me!) than God.

Lucky me. I found the right kind of love. With the wrong person.

Not Wrong for Me

No, not at all. Andrew is pretty much perfect. Not gorgeous, not in a male

model kind of way, but he is really cute,
with crazy hair that sometimes hides

his eyes, dark chocolate eyes that hold laughter, even when he's deadly serious.

He's not a hunk, but toned, and tall enough to effortlessly tuck me under his arms,

arms that are gentle but strong from honest ranch work, arms that make me feel

safe when they gather me in. It's the only time I really feel wanted, and the absolute

best part of any day is when I manage to steal cherished time with Andrew.

No, he's not even a little wrong for me except maybe — maybe! — in the eyes

of God. But much, much worse than that,
he's completely wrong for my parents.

See, My Papa

Is a hellfire-and-brimstone-preaching Assembly of God minister, and Mama

is his not-nearly-as-sweet-as-she-seems right-hand woman, and by almighty God,

their daughters (that's me, Eden, and my little sister, Eve — yeah, no pressure at all)

will toe the Pentecostal line. Sometimes Eve and I even pretend to talk in tongues,

just to keep them believing we're heavenbound,
despite the fact that we go to public school

(Mama's too lazy to homeschool) and come face-to-face with the unsaved every day.

But anyway, my father and mother maintain certain expectations when

it comes to their daughters' all-too-human future plans and desires.

Papa: Our daughters will find husbands within their faith.
Mama: Our daughters will not date until they're ready to marry.

You Get My Dilemma

I'm definitely not ready to marry,
so I can't risk letting them know

I'm already dating, let alone dating a guy who isn't born-again, and even

worse, doesn't believe he needs to be.
Andrew is spiritual, yes. But religious?

Religion is for followers, he told me once. Followers and puppets.
At my stricken look, he became not quite apologetic. Sorry. But I don't
need some money-grubbing preacher defining my relationship with God.

At the time, I was only half in love with Andrew and thought I needed

definitions. "What, exactly, is your relationship with our Heavenly Father?"

He gently touched my cheek, smiled.
First off, I don't think God is a guy.
Some Old Testament-writing fart made that up to keep his old lady
in line. He paused, then added, Why would God need a pecker, anyway?

Yes, he enjoyed the horrified look on my face. More laughter settled

into those amazing eyes, creasing them at the corners. So sexy!

Anyway, I relate to God in a very personal way. Don't need anyone to tell me how to do it better. I see His hand everywhere — in red sunrises and orange sunsets; in rain, falling on thirsty fields; in how a newborn lamb finds his mama in the herd. I thank God for these things. And for you.

After that, I was a lot more than halfway in love with Andrew.

The Funny Thing Is

We actually met at a revival, where nearly everyone was babbling in tongues,

or getting a healthy dose of Holy Spirit healing. Andrew's sister, Mariah, had

forsaken her Roman Catholic roots in favor of born-again believing and had

dragged her brother along that night,
hoping he'd find salvation. Instead

he found me, sitting in the very back row, half grinning at the goings-on.

He slid into an empty seat beside me.
So..., he whispered. Come here often?

I hadn't noticed him come in, and when I turned to respond, my voice caught

in my throat. Andrew was the best-looking guy to ever sit next to me,

let alone actually say something to me.
In fact, I didn't know they came that cute

in Idaho. A good ten seconds passed before I realized he had asked a question.

"I...uh...well, yes, in fact I come here fairly regularly. See the short guy up there?"

I pointed toward Papa, who kept the crowd chanting and praying while the visiting evangelist

busily laid on his hands. "He's the regular preacher and happens to be my father."

Andrew's jaw fell. He looked back and forth, Papa to me. You're kidding, right?

His consternation surprised me. "No,
not kidding. Why would you think so?"

He measured me again. It's just...you look so normal, and this... He shook his head.

I leaned closer to him, and for the first time inhaled his characteristic scent —

clean and somehow green, like the alfalfa fields I later learned he helps work for cash.

I dropped my voice very low. "Promise not to tell, but I know just what you mean."

It Was a Defining Moment

For me, who had never dared confess that I have questioned church dogma

for quite some time, mostly because I am highly aware of hypocrisy and notice

it all too often among my father's flock.
I mean, how can you claim to walk

in the light of the Lord when you're cheating on your husband or stealing

from your best friend/business partner?
Okay, I'm something of a cynic.

But there was more that evening — instant connection, to a guy who on the surface

was very different from me. And yet,
we both knew instinctively that we needed

something from each other. Some people might call it chemistry — two parts hydrogen,

one part oxygen, voilà! You've got water.
A steady trickle, building to a cascade.

If Andrew

Was the poser type, things would probably be easier. I mean, if he could

pretend to accept the Lord into his heart,
on my father's strictest of terms, maybe

we could be seen together in public — not really dating, of course. Not without a ring.

But Andrew is the most honest person I've ever met, and deadly honest that night.

Did you have to come to this thing?
It seems kind of, um...theatrical.

We had slipped out the back door,
when everyone's attention turned to

some unbelievable miracle at the front of the church. I smiled. "Theatrical.

That sums it up pretty well, I guess.
You probably couldn't see it in back, but..."

I glanced around dramatically, whispered,
"Brother Bradley even wears makeup!"

Andrew laughed warmly. So why do you come, then? Pure entertainment?

I shrugged. "Certain expectations are attached to the 'pastor's daughter' job

description. Easier just to meet them, or at least pretend they don't bother you."

It was early November, and the night wore a chill. I shivered at the nip in the air,

or at the sudden magnetic pull I felt toward this perfect stranger. Without a second

thought, Andrew took off his leather jacket, eased it around my shoulders.

Cool tonight, he observed. All the signs point to a hard winter.

He was standing very close to me.
I sank into that earthy green aura, looked

up into his eyes. "You don't believe in miracles, but you do believe in signs?"

His eyes didn't stray an inch. Who says I don't believe in miracles?
They happen every day. And I think we both knew that one just might have.

It Was Unfamiliar Turf

I mean, of course I'd thought guys were cute before, and the truth is, I'd even kissed

a few. But they'd all been "kiss and run,"
and none had come sprinting back for seconds.

Probably because most of the guys here at Boise High know who my father is.

But Andrew went to Borah High, clear across town, and he graduated last year.

He's a freshman at Boise State, where his mom teaches feminist theory. Yes, she and his rancher

dad make an odd couple. Love is like that.
Guess where his progressive theories came from.

That makes him nineteen, all the more reason we have to keep our relationship discreet.

In Idaho, age of consent is eighteen,
and my parents wouldn't even think

twice about locking him up for statutory.
That horrible thought has crossed my mind

more than once in the four months since Andrew decided to take a chance on me.

Four Months

Of him coming to church with Mariah,
both of us patiently wading through Papa's

sermons, then waiting for post-services coffee hours to slip separately out the side doors, into

the thick stand of riverside trees for a walk.
Conversation. After a while, we held hands

as we ducked in between the old cottonwoods,
grown skeletal with autumn. We joked about

how soon we'd have to bring our own leaves for cover. And then one day Andrew stopped.

He pleated me into his arms, burrowed his face in my hair, inhaled. Smells like rain, he said.

My heart quickstepped. He wanted to kiss me. That scared me. What if I wasn't good?

His lips brushed my forehead, the pulse in my right temple. Will I burn if I kiss you?

I was scared, but not of burning, and I wanted that kiss more than anything I'd ever wanted

in my life. "Probably. And I'll burn with you.
But it will be worth it." I closed my eyes.

It was cold that morning, maybe thirty degrees. But Andrew's lips were feverish

against mine. It was the kiss in the dream you never want to wake up from — sultry,

fueled by desire, and yet somehow innocent,
because brand-new, budding love was the heart

of our passion. Andrew lifted me gently in his sinewy arms, spun me in small circles,

lips still welded to mine. I'd never known such joy, and it all flowed from Andrew.

And when we finally stopped, I knew my life had irrevocably changed.

Day by Day

I've grown to love him more and more.
Now, though I haven't dared confess

it yet, I'm forever and ever in love with him. After I tell him (if I ever find the nerve),

I'll have to hide it from everyone. Boise,
Idaho, isn't very big. Word gets around.

Can't even tell Eve. She's awful about keeping secrets. Good thing she goes to

middle school, where she isn't privy to what happens here at Boise High.

I'm sixteen, a junior. A year and a half,
and I'll be free to do whatever I please.

For now, I'm sneaking off to spend a few precious minutes with Andrew.

I duck out the exit, run down the steps,
hoping I don't trip. Last thing I need

is an emergency room visit when I'm supposed to be in study hall. Around one

corner. Two. And there's his Tundra across the street, idling at the curb. He spots me

and even from here, I can see his face light up. Glance left. No one I know.

Right. Ditto. No familiar faces or cars.
I don't even wait for the corner,

but jaywalk midblock at a furious pace, practically dive through the door

and across the seat, barely saying hello before kissing Andrew like I might

never see him again. Maybe that's because always, in the back of my mind, I realize

that's a distinct possibility, if we're ever discovered kissing like this. One other

thought branded into my brain is that maybe kissing like this will bring God's almighty wrath

crashing down all around us. I swear, God,
it's not just about the delicious electricity

coursing through my veins. It's all about love.
And you are the source of that, right? Amen.

Copyright © 2009 by Ellen Hopkins

A Poem by Seth Parnell
Possibilities

As a child, I was wary,
often felt cornered.
To escape, I regularly stashed myself

in the closet,

comforted by curtains of cotton. Silk. Velour.
Avoided wool, which encouraged my

itching

the ever-present rashes on my arms, legs. My skin reacted to secrets, lies,
and taunts by wanting

to break out.

Now I hide behind a wall of silence, bricked in by the crushing desire to confess,

but afraid of

my family's reaction.
Fearful I don't have the strength to survive

the fallout.

Seth
As Far Back

As I can remember,

I have known that I was different. I think I was maybe five

when I decided that.

I was the little boy

who liked art projects and ant farm tending better than riding bikes

or playing army rangers.

Not easy, coming from

a long line of farmers and factory workers. Dad's big dream for his only son has

always been tool and die.

My dream is liberal arts,

a New Agey university.
Berkeley, maybe. Or,
even better, San Francisco.

But that won't happen.

Not with Mom Gone

She was the one who

supported my escape plan. You reach for your
dreams, she said. Factory

work is killing us all.

Factory work may

have jump-started it,
but it was cancer that took my mom, one year

and three months ago.

At least she didn't

have to find out about me. She loved me, sure,
with all her heart. Wanted

me to be happy, with all her

heart. But when it came to

sex, she was all Catholic in her thinking. Sex was for making babies, and only

after marriage. I'll never forget

what she said when my cousin

Liz got pregnant. She was just sixteen and her boyfriend hauled his butt out of town, all the way

to an army base in Georgia.

Mom got off the phone with

Aunt Josie, clucking like a hen.
Who would have believed our pretty little Liz would

grow up to be such a whore?

I thought that was harsh,

and told her so. She said,
flat out, Getting pregnant without getting married first

makes her a whore in God's eyes.

I knew better than to argue

with Mom, but if she felt that strongly about unmarried sex, no way could I ever let

her know about me, suffer

the disgrace that would have

followed. Beyond Mom,
Indiana's holier-than-thou conservatives hate "fags" almost

as much as those freaks in Kansas

do — the ones who picket dead

soldiers' funerals, claiming their fate was God's way of getting back at gays. How in

the hell are the two things related?

And Anyway

If God were inclined

to punish someone just for being the way he created them, it would

be punishment enough

to insert that innocent

soul inside the womb of a native Indianan.
These cornfields and

gravel roads are no place

for someone like me.

Considering almost every guy I ever knew growing up is a total jock, with no plans

for the future but farming

or assembly-line work,

it sure isn't easy to fit in at school, even without overtly jumping out of

that frigging closet.

I can't even tell Dad,

though I've come very close a couple of times,
in response to his totally

cliché homophobic views:

Bible says God made

Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, and no damn bleeding-heart liberal

gonna tell me different.

Most definitely not this

bleeding-heart liberal.
Of course, Dad has no clue that's what I am. Or have

become. Because of who

I am, all the way inside,

the biggest part of me,
the part I need to hide.
Wonder what he'd say

if I told him the first person

to recognize what I am

was a priest. Father Howard knew. Took advantage, too.
Maybe I'll confess it all

to Dad someday. But not

while he's still grieving

over Mom. I am too.
And if I lost my dad because of any of this, I really

don't know what I'd do.

So I Keep the Real Seth

Mostly hidden away.

It is spring, a time of hope,
locked in the rich loam we till and plant. Corn.

Maize. The main ingredient

in American ethanol,

the fuel of the future, and so it fuels our dreams. It's a cold March day, but the sun

threatens to thaw me,

like it has started to thaw

the ground. The big John Deere has little trouble tugging the tiller, turning

the soil, readying it for seed.

I don't mind this work.

There's something satisfying about the submission, dirt to churning blades. Submission,

yes, and almost as ancient

as the submission of one

beast, throat up to another.
One human, facedown to another. And always,

always another, hungering.

Hunger

Drives the beast, human

or otherwise, and it is the essence of humanity.
Hunger for food. Power.

Sex. All tangled together.

It was hunger that made

me post a personal ad on the Internet. Hunger for something I knew

I could never taste here.

Hunger that put me on

the freeway to Louisville,
far away enough to promise secrecy unattainable at home.

Hunger that gave me

the courage to knock on

a stranger's door. Looking back, I realize the danger.
But then I felt invincible.

Or maybe just starved.

I'd Dated Girls, of Course

Trying to convince

myself the attraction toward guys I'd always felt was just a passing thing.

Satan, luring me with

the promise of a penis.

I'd even fallen for a female.
Janet Winkler was dream-girl pretty and sweeter than

just-turned apple cider.

But love and sexual desire

don't always go hand in hand.
Luckily, Janet wasn't looking to get laid, which worked out

just fine. After a while,

though, I figured I should

be looking to get laid, like every other guy my age. So why did the thought of sex

with Janet — who I believed

I loved, even — not turn

me on one bit? Worse, why did the idea of sex with her Neanderthal jock big brother

turn me on so completely?

Not that Leon Winkler

is particularly special.
Not good-looking. Definitely not the brightest bulb in the

socket. What he does have

going on is a fullback's

physique. Pure muscle.
(That includes inside his two-inch-thick skull.) I'd catch

myself watching his butt,

thinking it was perfect.

Something not exactly hetero about that. Weird thing was, that didn't

bother me. Well, except for

the idea someone might

notice how my eyes often fell toward the rhythm of his exit. I never once

lusted for Janet like that.

I tried to let her down

easy. Gave her the ol'
"It's not you, it's me"
routine. But breaking up

is never an easy thing.

Not Easy for Janet

Who never saw it coming.

When I told her, she looked as if she'd been run over by a bulldozer. But you

told me you love me.

"I do love you," I said.

"But things are, well...
confusing right now. You know my mom is sick...."

Can't believe I used

her cancer as an excuse

to try and smooth things over. And it worked, to a point, anyway. At least

it gave Janet something

to hold on to. I know, Seth.

But don't you think you need someone to...?
The denial in my eyes

spoke clearly. She tried

another tactic, sliding

her arms around my neck,
seeking to comfort me. Then she kissed me, and it was

a different kind of kiss

than any we'd shared

before. Swollen with desire.
Demanding. Lips still locked to mine, she murmured, What

if I give you this...?

Her hand found my own,

urged it along her body's contours, all the way to the place between her legs,

the one I had never asked for.

To be honest, I thought

about doing it. What if it cured my confusion after all?
In the heat of the moment,

I even got hard, especially

when Janet touched me,

dropped onto her knees,
lowered my zipper, started to do what I never suspected

she knew how to do. Yes...

No! Shouldn't...How...?

The haze in my brain cleared instantly, and I pushed her away. "No. I can't,"

was all I could say.

All Janet Could Say

Before she stalked off

was, Up yours! What are you, anyway? Gay? Not really expecting a response,

she pivoted sharply, went

in search of moral support.

So she never heard me say,
way under my breath, "Maybe I am gay." It was time, maybe

past, to find out for sure.

But not in Perry County,

Indiana, where if you're not related to someone,
you know someone who

is. All fact here is rooted

in gossip, and gossip can

prove deadly. Like last year,
little Billy Caldwell told Nate Fisher that he saw Nate's mom

kissing some guy out back

of a tavern. Total lie, but

that didn't help Nate's mom when Nate's dad went looking for her, with a loaded shotgun.

Caught up to her after Mass

Sunday morning, and when

he was done, that church parking lot looked like a street in Baghdad. After, Billy felt

kind of bad. But he blamed

Nate's dad one hundred percent.

Not Nate, who took out his grief on Billy's hunting dog. That hound isn't much

good for hunting now, not

with an eye missing. Since

I'd really like to hang on to both of my eyes and all of my limbs, I figured I'd

better find my true self

somewhere other than Perry

County. Best way I could think of was through the
"be anyone you choose to be"

possibilities of online dating.

Granted, One Possibility

Was hooking up with a creep —

a pervert, looking to spread some incurable disease to some poor, horny idiot. I met more

than one pervert, but I never

let them do me. Nope, horny

or not, I wasn't an idiot. No homosexual yokel, anxious enough to get laid to let any

guy who swung the correct

direction into my jeans.

I wanted my first real sex to be with the right guy. Someone experienced enough to teach

me, but not humiliate me.

Someone good-looking.

Young. Educated. A good talker, yes, but a good listener,
too. Someone maybe even

hoping to fall in love.

Incredibly

Unimaginably, Loren turned

out to be all those things,
and I found him in Louisville!
He opened my eyes to a wider

world, introduced me to the

avant-garde — performance art,

nude theater, alternative lit. He gave me a taste for caviar, pâté, excellent

California cabernet. After

years of fried chicken and

Pabst Blue Ribbon, such adjustments could only be born of love. Truthfully,

love was unexpected. I've

said it before, and I'll repeat,

I didn't fall out of the tree yesterday. But that first day,
when Loren opened his door,

I took one look and fell

flat on my face. Figuratively,

of course. I barely stumbled as I crossed the threshold —
into his apartment, and into

the certainty of who I am.

Copyright © 2009 by Ellen Hopkins

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 464 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com

    Eden, Ginger, Cody, Seth, and Whitney are teens whose life circumstances have taken them to an increasingly common yet horrible place. Simple survival is their motivation for selling sex for money.

    Eden never thought about sex. Raised by a fire-and-brimstone father and mother meant hours in a church pew, not on dates and at parties. Meeting Andrew changed her life. He was just as innocent as she was, so the two learned about love together. It was real and special until her parents found out. She was sent away to a terrible place, and she did what she had to in order to escape.

    Ginger's life was always filled with sex. Her mother had six kids by five different guys, and her attempt to keep food on the table involved any man looking for what she was willing to sell. Thank goodness for a grandmother willing to take them in and do what she could to provide for them. Ginger vowed to be different, but when her mother began to use her for profit, it was time to leave. But making a change from what you've always known is not as easy as it seems.

    Life for Cody and his brother, Cory, improved when their mother married Jack. Jack was great at filling the role of dad, and Cody appreciated it. Cory may have been rebelling, but Cody did his best to be a responsible son and step-son. Then cancer struck and Jack was gone. Things got crazy when there wasn't enough money. Gambling might provide the answer, but he needed a supply of cash to make money that way, forcing him in directions he knew were dangerous.

    Seth and his dad survived the death of a mother and wife. Their simple Indiana farm life continued on without her; however, that simple life didn't welcome the fact that Seth had known for quite some time that he was gay. He actually lived two separate lives - the farm life his father assumed he would continue, and the new life he had found in Louisville. As long as he could keep the two lives separate, he could make everyone happy. When a letter caused the two to collide, Seth learned that his father could not accept the truth, so he was forced to leave. A man named Carl made an offer Seth couldn't refuse, but so often those offers don't last forever.

    Whitney is popular and beautiful. She is used to having the things she wants but not always the attention she desires. Her doting father is gone a lot on business, which leaves her with a busy mother whose focus has always been on her older daughter. Hooking up with a popular guy gives Whitney a reason to carry on, but when that relationship ends, she is left with anger. That anger drives her in a rebellious direction that she will soon regret.

    Ellen Hopkins takes her readers on yet another dangerous journey into lives that have gone wrong. The focus is on the increasingly current trend of teenagers forced into selling themselves to survive. Whether it is out-and-out prostitution or the thinly disguised "escort" services, more and more teens are involved in sex for money.

    The five young people in TRICKS all have very different reasons for getting caught up in this destructive lifestyle, and Hopkins paints a stirring and vivid picture of each of their paths into this terrible world. TRICKS is hard-hitting and disturbingly direct as it details the downward spiral of five lives.

    Fans of Ellen Hopkins are no doubt anxiously awaiting this new release. One word of caution from this reviewer is that this direct approach to a serious subject is best suited for older teens.

    37 out of 37 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2009

    W-O-W

    this book is good but scary at the same time. it's sad to think this actually happens to teens. read if u have a strong stomach. very emotional...

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 27, 2011

    REad this!

    When I went to pick this book up at the library, I was surprised at how small and fat it was. Great, just what I need.a 600+ page book and hardly enough time to read. When I opened up the book and glanced at the first few pages, I was delighted and shocked the margins were so wide and there were no more than seven words per line. Then I thought, "wait a minute, this is freakin' poetry!" Since I read so little poetry and never developed an appreciation for it, I left the library slightly disappointed. Well, Tricks isn't exactly poetry, but a novel written in verse. Once I started reading, I couldn't put the book down. Dishes were piling up, dust bunnies were fighting back, and I was late to work.

    Tricks is a story about five deeply troubled teenagers, all from different areas, backgrounds, and family situations who end up falling into prostitution.

    Each character has a story to tell. These stories are brief, and jump from one character to the next and back again. At the beginning, I was a little frustrated at how short their stories were and was afraid that I would not be able to distinguish one character from the next. It turns out there was no need to worry. Hopkins does a brilliant job of infusing her characters with life, personality and emotions. As I continued to read, and the characters' situations became more harrowing, I found the stories very intense and was relieved there was some separation. I was also surprised at how much I enjoyed the writing style. These stories told in verse allowed me to get into the minds and feelings of the characters without extraneous detail, and helped me feel a deeper connection with them.

    Tricks broke my heart and made my stomach churn. The stories were gripping, painful, and honest. My own teenage years, painful memories, wrong choices, and difficulty with parents all came flooding back.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    It Makes You Think.

    It's a great book. I love Ellen Hopkins's books. They always make you think about the realism, about how what happens to the characters is happening to real people. "Tricks" makes you really think. It makes you felll bad. It's wonderful and very emotional.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 2, 2011

    Tricks Overview- Highly Recommended

    The book Tricks by Ellen Hopkins is a thrilling tale about love, lust, prostitution, and heartbreak. It was an excellent read, however, it was quite graphic, and there were times when I felt slightly uncomfortable reading about the topics; which included sex, drugs, and rape.

    This book incorporates the lives of five teens; three girls and two boys. The first girl (Eden) is the daughter of a priest. She falls in love with an older boy who broadens her horizons life, love, and religion. Next, there¿s Seth, a boy growing up Indiana struggling to determine his sexual orientation. He knows that his father would disapprove, and he is torn between what¿s right for him in the eyes of God.
    Whitney Lang has always been living in her sister¿s shadow, especially in the eyes of her mother. But, when Whitney meets someone who makes her feel special, what exactly will she do for him? Then we meet Ginger, the oldest of six in a family struggling to get by. She¿s been neglected by her mother for as long as she can remember, but a new hate towards her mom develops as she finds out the truth about the men in her home.
    Finally, Cody Bennett is a boy who seems to have it all; a nice family, a good job, and a beautiful girlfriend. However, when a family sickness sends his perfect world crashing down, Cody finds himself taking desperate measures to get his life back on track.

    I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. It is well written, with vivid detail and a suspenseful plot. However, I would not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 14 years old. I read it at 13, and I found some of the concepts hard to grasp. There were many things that I felt were over my head.

    In conclusion, Tricks by Ellen Hopkins in an eventful story, and a must read for teens 14 and up. It provided me with a new perspective on teenage life, and I¿m sure it will do the same for readers everywhere.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2011

    L Great read

    This is a raw and gritty novel that has five characters from different backrounds ending up in the same place....prostitution.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 7, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    It's too amazing for words

    I don't know how Ellen Hopkins does it. Her words scream at you. You get so engulfed in the book that you can almost hear the character's breath as it flows out of their chest. You find yourself stuck in Ellen Hopkins all too real story until the book ends and you feel yourself cast away back into reality. She has this effect on you through her writting. You won't be able to tear your eyes away or pry your hands off that book until you are reading the very last word of the very last page. Get this book and experience it for yourselve.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 22, 2011

    Amazing

    Holy fxck...this is a very good book. Highly reccomended.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2010

    Very good

    I think that the novel taches life lessons. If you read it, you will be taken on a journey through six teenagers who are developing just by doing instead of thinking. I reccomend to teenagers who need inspiration in the situation they're in.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Tricks :)

    Tricks was a very good book. It shows what some people will do to make money. It shows what some people will do just to survive. It shows that not everyone's life is not peachy keys. It's a book that I would read again.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Ellen Hopkins does it yet again

    I absolutely love Ellen she write amazing books and this one is amazing. I have to say that it is not my all time favorite but it was great. Hard to read at times and unbeliaveable what the characters have to go through. Overall 5 stars i just reccomend that whoever reads this book should be at least 14 it is a very strong emotional challenging book that makes you keep reading until ur jaw is hung open gasping for air because you have forgotten to breath. Thanks you for yet another amzing read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Amazing Book

    I am a HUGE fan of Ellen Hopkins books so I was thrilled when I found out she wrote a new one, and this one was one of the best. It was real, gripping and exciting. I would definitely recommend it to anyone

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2014

    Unique, Relevant And Under-rated

    This is an amazing book you should get! yes it has mature, scratch that, mature and wild sexual themes, but it all comes together in a touching story. one of her best!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Highly Recommended

    I highly recommend it because, it's one of my favorite Ellen Hopkins book. You should definitely read if your going through a though time in life. The book tells you that if your so desperate for money do not sell your own body to get it.
    Eden is tired of being a good priest's daughter so when her family figures out she is dating the send her to a place to repent from all the bad things she did.
    Seth is also tired of living a lie to his dad, so when his dad figures out he is gay he kick him out of the house with no money.
    Ginger is (my favorite character) tired of her mom (whose is a prositute) bringing strange men home with her. So Ginger decides to run away with a friend.
    Whitney, tired of her mom always ignoring her, until she met a guy at the mall and falls in love with him.
    Cody, he finds any cheap (easy) way to get money even if it means gambling.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2013

    Best of Ellen yet!

    Its an amazing book! I loved it

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2012

    :)

    This book was amazing, like the others. It took a little while to get acustom with the more than one charactor thing and just randomely changing between them. But all in all I loved this book and really love the author




    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    <3

    I love this book! I finished it in two days i couldnt put it down!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    Amazing

    The thing with Ellen is you can always expect a good book from her. But I honestly believe this is one of her best (if not better) works ever. I found it almost too hard to read because she doesn't sugarcoat anything -- she tells how it really is and it's not pretty.
    Anyone and everyone should read this because it truly is an extraordinary book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 9, 2014

    Makes you sad a little knowing this is how people's lives truly

    Makes you sad a little knowing this is how people's lives truly are. Kind of gives you a reality check.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2014

    Amazing

    My absolute favorite book, the back of the book doesn't give many specifics about what its really about so I went into it without much knowledge. I love ellen hopkins and her writing sryle so there is no surpise that I fell in love with yet another one of her books, her writing is simple, beautiful, and very realistic. This book is full of surprises and originality.

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