Rumble Book Poster Image




Teen boy recovers after brother's suicide in gritty read.

What parents need to know

Educational value

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. 

Positive messages

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.


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.


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.


Lots of swear words, including "s--t," "f--k," "d--k," "fag," "p---y," and some creative words, such as "a--hat."


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.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Ellen HopkinsRumble 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.

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

Matt's angry after his depressed brother hangs himself. He's so angry, in fact, that he even fantasizes about killing the kids who bullied him, many of whom consider themselves to be Christian. He's also angry about his horrible home life, and especially his father, who rejected his gay brother when he was alive. But that's not all that's happening to him: He's also working to hold on to his religious girlfriend, Hayden, even though he seems to hit it off better with Alexa, her former best friend. But is it lust or love? And what should he do when Hayden's father tries to get a book banned at school? Or when an unstable veteran walks into his uncle's gun range, bent on a violent revenge? Through all this turmoil, Matt's going to have to figure out what he needs to let go of -- and what's worth hanging on to.

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.   

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about suicide due to cyberbullying. What do you think we as a society could do to prevent bullying online and offline? 

  • Matt's angry at the Evangelical Christians who bullied his brother (even after his death, a youth pastor calls his homosexuality and suicide "weakness"). What do you think about the way religion's portrayed here?

  • Rumble deals with book censorship as a parent tries to get The Perks of Being a Wallflower banned. Should a book ever be banned? Who should decide what you read?

Book details

Author:Ellen Hopkins
Genre:Coming of Age
Topics:Brothers and sisters, High school, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Publication date:August 26, 2014
Number of pages:560
Publisher's recommended age(s):14 - 18
Available on:Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of Rumble was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

Top advice and articles

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 12 years old November 14, 2014


Well written. It was a little strange but I liked it. It is about a suicide so be able to handle it and of course it makes you cry just a tad. I loved it. If you want a good read you found it. -Hoped this helped
Teen, 14 years old Written bygreenloversara July 27, 2015


Amazing. I read this book in one day. This book is definitely for older kids because the main character is getting over his brothers suicide. He committed suicide because he was bullied for being gay. There are some graphic scenes in this book. There are also references to the book The Perks of Being a Wallflower. There is some violence in the end. Hope this helped
What other families should know
Educational value
Too much sex