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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
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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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- Author: Ellen Hopkins
- Genre: Poetry
- 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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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.