A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Rumble covers a wide-range of issues, including bullying, suicide, and book censorship. This is a thick book, but it's written in verse, making it a good choice for reluctant readers.
Matt has a lot of anger, but he's tolerant of many people's differences and eventually learns to "have faith in love."
Positive Role Models
Matt goes to parties, swears a lot, and cheats on his girlfriend. But readers will understand that he's in pain after the death of his brother, and appreciate that he's honest about who he is, and his difficult, smart-alecky personality, his anger and his difficulty maintaining relationships.
Violence & Scariness
Matt's brother hanged himself, and Matt walked in and found his body. Afterward, Matt gets in trouble for writing an essay that some teachers think is a threat to other students (and Matt admits to fantasizing about violence against those who bullied his brother). Matt gets into a fight with his dad that nearly turns violent. Matt has a gun and goes to a gun range where an unstable veteran goes. Eventually that vet creates an explosion there, which leaves Matt seriously injured.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Fairly graphic sex scenes, including an oral sex description. Matt talks about being the product of unprotected sex, talks to other teens about sex, truthfully tells his mother that he and his girlfriend are not having sex, and remembers a time when a drunk boy tried to kiss his brother. Also, Matt's father rekindles his romance with a former girlfriend.
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Lots of swear words, including "s--t," "f--k," "d--k," "fag," "p---y," and some creative words, such as "a--hat."
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Products & Purchases
A few products mentioned, such as Glock, NyQuil, Carl's Jr., a Ford 150 truck.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Matt's mom smokes, as do some of his friends. Teens drink at parties, and Matt's dad has a drinking problem and is often portrayed as drunk or hungover. His brother took Prozac for his depression. Another teen takes Adipex to have longer erections.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ellen Hopkins' Rumble is a novel in free verse that tackles a wide-range of issues, including bullying, cyberbullying, suicide, and book censorship. Protagonist Matt is angry after his brother commits suicide -- and he finds his brother's body. The novel includes some frank sex talk and graphic sex scenes, including oral sex. Matt also discusses that he was the product of unprotected sex, truthfully tells his mother that he and his girlfriend are not having sex, and remembers a time when a drunk boy tried to kiss his brother, who's gay. There's teen drinking (as well as adult drinking and smoking), and a lot of swear words, including "s--t" and "f--k," and some derogatory words for gay people. Also, Matt has a gun, fantasizes about violence -- and later becomes a victim when a disturbed veteran creates an explosion that leaves Matt wounded. Matt has a lot of anger, but he's tolerant of many people's differences and eventually learns to "have faith in love." This is a thick book, but it's written in verse, making it a good choice for reluctant readers.
Is It Any Good?
Fans of author Ellen Hopkins' other free-verse books will find an interesting and familiar mix of topical issues, mature material, and a troubled teen protagonist here. Like her other books, this one is thick at nearly 600 pages, but teens will move quickly through Matt's journey.
At some points, readers may feel that Rumble is more about the issues than the storyline, such as when Matt gets involved in the fight to stop a book's censorship -- something Hopkins herself is very passionate about. But, in the end, readers are likely to enjoy debating many of the big issues here, especially Matt's anti-religion position.
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