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Intense tale of teen breaking free from her abusive home.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Told in free verse, the story moves quickly, making Burned a good choice for mature teens who normally resist reading. Parents can use the book to open up discussion about religion and domestic abuse. The novel also mentions how many Nevada residents were exposed to radiation during atom bomb testing.

Positive messages

There's an important message in Burned about how love and support brings out the best in people, while abuse and fear forces people to make rash and dangerous decisions. Religious people, especially Mormons, may be bothered by the negative way the church is portrayed here.

Positive role models

Pattyn's tough but loving aunt champions her, reminding the abused teen,  "Keep on shining, Pattyn." Pattyn begins to see herself in a new light with the help of new love and support. Ultimately, though, she makes bad -- though understandable -- choices that make it hard to consider her a positive role model.


Pattyn's father beats her mother, her sister -- and hits her, too, leaving her in pain. After a car accident, a young character is killed and another suffers a miscarriage. Hunters kill rabbits, a deer, and a cougar that's been killing cattle. A teen begins planning a mass murder against those who've hurt her.


Pattyn almost has sex with Derek, then does lose her virginity to Ethan. Though there aren't a lot of details, readers learn that a condom breaks one time. Also, Pattyn's mother's pregnant after having several children -- and Pattyn's aunt talks about how she and a neighbor both had several miscarriages after being exposed to radiation. Pattyn's father disowned one of her half-brothers after he came out as gay. There's also talk of periods and sanitary pads.


A handful of words like "s--t," "f--k," "crap," "bitch," "damn."


Some brands like Wal-Mart, Wrangler, Coke, Johnnie Walker, Dodge Dakota, Ford. 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Pattyn drinks beer and other alcohol with her boyfriends, and her aunt offers her wine. Her father's an alcohloic who gets drunk on Johnnie Walker.  

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Burned is a novel written in free verse, narrated by a teen girl named Pattyn who's growing up in an abusive Mormon home. It's intense and mature, but not as gritty as author Ellen Hopkins' readers might expect. Pattyn's father beats her mother, her sister -- and hits her, too. After a car accident, a young character's killed and another suffers a miscarriage. One teen character's planning a mass murder against those who have hurt her. There's swearing, drinking, and Pattyn loses her virginity to Ethan. Though there aren't a lot of details, readers do learn that a condom breaks one time, leaving Pattyn worried about an unplanned pregnancy. The story moves quickly, making Burned a good choice for mature teens who normally resist reading. Religious people, especially Mormons, may be bothered by the negative way the church is portrayed here.

What's the story?

Pattyn's the oldest daughter in a strict Mormon family that hides a dangerous secret: Her alcoholic father beats up her mother, then sends Pattyn away for the summer when he catches her drinking and hooking up with a boy from school. At her aunt's ranch in rural Nevada, Pattyn discovers the love she's always wanted from both her tough but kind aunt (who encourages her to \"keep on shining\") and a cute college cowboy who lives down the road. But when summer ends, and she returns home, she becomes the target of her father's abuse.

Is it any good?


Told in free verse, BURNED moves quickly, making it a good choice for mature teens who normally resist reading. Through well-drawn details, readers will be able to clearly picture Pattyn's much healthier new life in rural Nevada with her aunt -- and Ethan -- riding horses to round up cattle, eating fresh baked fruit pies, camping out under the stars. The romance between the two young lovers is sweet (and a little salty), though readers may find Ethan's good-guy character a bit too perfect to be believed. Author Ellen Hopkins leaves readers with enough open-ended questions about what will happen to Pattyn next to make them eager for the sequel, Smoke.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how religion is portrayed in Burned. What do you think of how critical Pattyn is of the church she was raised in?

  • How do you like reading a novel written in verse? How's it different from a conventional novel? How's it different from a book of poetry?

  • Pattyn's afraid to tell anyone when she finds out her dad's beating her sister. What would you do if someone you loved was being hurt at home?

Book details

Author:Ellen Hopkins
Topics:Brothers and sisters, Horses and farm animals, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Margaret K. McElderry
Publication date:April 28, 2006
Publisher's recommended age(s):14 - 17
Available on:Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle

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Adult Written byspfsunny101 April 22, 2014

Does not dissapoint!

Ellen Hopkins is by far my favorite author, this was the second novel that I read by her and it has been my favorite so far! If your child is mature, I strongly recommend that he or she reads this book. Yes there are some sexy parts and mature themes, but more mature teens will get a better understanding about life in general after reading this book. After all, one of the reasons I enjoy reading Hopkins' books is that she addresses each gritty subject beautifully through prose and poetry. While some may find her book and this book depressing, I personally enjoy that she shows what real life can be like, and how her characters manage their ordeals. Definitely recommend!
Teen, 13 years old Written byBgooding January 11, 2017

Intriguing through it all

Another great book by Ellen Hopkins and one for kids and teens to read if they usually resist reading. Burned is very fast paced and gets straight to the point. On top of that the unique style of free verse poetry is a great addition. Families should know that the father is drunk through the story and he abuses his children and has mild discription. The two characters do make love but it doesn't go into much detail. The book can be read by mature kids and teens for certain things that happen and mild language such as f***and s***, but is an incredible read. In all Burned by Ellen Hopkins is a great fast pace story and is intriguing from cover to cover.