Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
Impulse Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Gritty book about suicide survivors told in free verse.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 21 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 102 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Can open the door to a lot of conversations, thanks to the myriad topics it covers, including suicide, abuse, and mental illness. Parents who do a quick flip through the book first will feel more prepared for the discussion.

Positive Messages

Multiple stories explore the depths of despair physical, sexual, and emotional abuse can cause. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters who suffered from abuse and attempted suicide try to come to grips with their past and move forward. It may be hard to consider any of the protagonists role models, but they certainly are sympathetic, and readers will appreciate their brave struggles. 


Each character has tried to commit suicide, and each has suffered abuse (sexual, emotional, physical), and one character murdered his abuser. One protagonist dies violently.


Some kissing, and talk about sex and abortion. One of the protagonists mentions having had sex with a teacher.


Lots of swearing and graphic talk.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters are on medication and one character in particular talks about past drug use.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that each of the main characters has tried to commit suicide, and each has suffered abuse (sexual, emotional, and physical). There is lots of gritty language and plotting: One character murdered his abuser as a child, another had sex with a teacher, and the third watched her mentally ill mother die. Plus, there's cutting, abortion, bi-polar disorder, over-achieving, and a character who thinks he's gay. In the end, one of the protagonists dies a rather violent death. Since the free verse makes this a quicker read, it'll make it easier for parents to preview the content ahead of their mature teens.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, and 18+-year-old Written byAnniesBookStop June 3, 2015

A good book - but maybe not for kids.

Ellen Hopkins is a great author, and this may be her best book. Unfortunately, the subject matter is not entirely appropriate for anyone under 15, and is iffy f... Continue reading
Adult Written byjessieforsythe March 4, 2012

Powerful Novel Great For Teens

This book is beautifully written and touches important issues that need to be addressed with teens, especially in light of recent teen suicides across North Ame... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bysoccersam September 19, 2011

A Rebutal to "From a Conservative Christian Point of View"

First I have to say that I have been to many different churchs through out my life, and that I am a spirtiual person. However magpiesings is way off base, the... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bysyndromia September 25, 2019

It's okay.

i think it's pretty good but also very very confusing. little hard to read.

What's the story?

Three teens are locked up in a psychiatric facility after their suicide attempts. They each have a dark past filled with abuse, but slowly they begin to open up to one another and form tight bonds.

Is it any good?

More than 600 free-verse pages about teen suicide gets to be a bit much at times, especially as the three interconnected protagonists reveal all the trauma they've endured in their short lives. And that includes everything from sexual abuse to abortion to cutting and more. But by stringing together short lines, Hopkins is able to make each of her characters real and distinct. Along the way, readers will find themselves really caring for Vanessa, Conner, and especially warm and funny Tony, as the troubled teens start to deal with their demons, and depend on one another.

In the end, IMPULSE is a gritty and realistic book for mature teens only. It can open the door to a lot of conversations, thanks to the myriad topics it covers. Parents who do a quick flip through the book first will feel more prepared for the discussion.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Hopkins' free-verse writing style. How does it change the impact of her story? Were you able to read this book more quickly than other books?

  • The author's books are often controversial -- and challenged. Should any topic or book be off-limits for teen readers? Who should have a right to say what's appropriate for you? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love mature reading

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