Teens grow up too fast in intense stories told in poetry.

What parents need to know

Educational value

The free verse makes Tilt a good choice for reluctant readers who will quickly get through this thick book. Parents can use it to talk about a wide variety of tough topics, including teen pregnancy, HIV, rape, homophobia -- and book censorship. The author includes facts about HIV and teen pregnancy at the back of the book.

Positive role models

None of the teen protagonists acts perfectly, but they do relate their experiences honestly and learn from their bad choices in various ways.


A girl is raped while she's drunk, and another teen character tries to kill himself. There's a bloody fistfight between boys, and a mention of an abusive husband who beat his wife and child. A teen boy recalls that his uncle's brother molested him when he was a child, infecting him with HIV. Also, a severely disabled child dies.


Descriptions of sex and sex acts, including masturbation, oral sex, and sex between two teen boys. A character has HIV, a girl has an abortion, and another girl is pregnant. A teen boy texts to friends a naked picture of the girl he is seeing.


Mature language, including "s--t" and "f--k," plus words like "goddamn," "pussy," and more.


Coke, Bacardi 51, Jaggermeister, as well as bands and few products, such as Wranglers and Stove Top.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Teens drink and do drugs, including marijuana and pills. One teen uses antidepressants and Jaggermeister in a suicide attempt. A teen drives drunk, and a girl is raped when she passes out from alcohol. A father drinks to not have to deal with his crumbling family.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that, like Hopkin's other books for teens, Tilt features gritty material, including rape, HIV, teen sex and pregnancy, the death of child, a suicide attempt, drunk driving, and more. Teens swear ("s--t," "f--k," "goddamn," "pussy," and more), drink, and make all kinds of mistakes, but they do relate their experiences honestly and learn from their bad choices in various ways. Parents can use this book to talk about a wide variety of tough topics, including teen pregnancy, HIV, rape, homophobia -- and book censorship. Readers will get the author's point that an "unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease will change your life forever."

What's the story?

If your teens have read Hopkins' books before, then they know the drill: 600+ pages of free-verse poetry as a cast of interconnected teen characters deal with some hot-topic issues, such as teen pregnancy and HIV. Through interwoven stories, readers get to know pregnant Mikayla, gay Shane, and Harley, who's trying on wild behavior like wearing tight clothes, drinking, and seeing a dangerous bad boy. There are some harsh plot points here: Shane falls in love with an HIV-infected boy and numbs his emotional pain with drugs and alcohol; Harley texts a naked picture of herself to her boyfriend, who sends it around, and he later rapes her while she's drunk. Through painful situations, these characters learn what they really need is time to grow up.

Is it any good?


This is a good choice for Hopkins' fans, who know what to expect, and for reluctant readers, who will quickly get through the free verse that covers provocative material. Readers also might appreciate that this book features imperfect families, including abusive or alcoholic parents, new stepparents, estranged parents, and more. It's a bit overstuffed, as the author puts her poor protagonists through trial after trial -- teen pregnancy, dating someone with HIV, a dying sister, a rape, a suicide attempt, and more. But readers will appreciate that the three leading teens emerge damaged but not defeated.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about censorship. Do teens have the right to decide what they can read? Should anyone else get a say in that decision?

  • Do you think books written in free verse -- like Hopkins' Glass, Impulse, and Perfect -- are easier to read? What does the style -- and the way the poems connect with one another -- convey to you?

  • How do you think Tilt compares with Hopkins' other books?

Book details

Author:Ellen Hopkins
Genre:Coming of Age
Topics:Brothers and sisters, Friendship, High school, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Publication date:September 11, 2012
Number of pages:608
Publisher's recommended age(s):14 - 17
Available on:Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of Tilt 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

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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

Teen, 15 years old Written bySmileSomeoneLovesYou September 28, 2013


This is, by far, one of the best books I've ever read. The style that Ellen Hopkins uses in her writing is great. Don't be intimidated by the size of the novel! I read it in 3 days. The characters are very realistic and go through situations teens face everyday. I really enjoyed this novel. (Ellen Hopkins's other book are great also.)
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written bywhatevsbrosuckers February 21, 2013

need to read this now

need to read this, I've already read Ellen's other teen books and loved them all (with the exception of Tricks) it sounds great.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Educator and Parent Written byMkaleokalani January 19, 2013

Not for Middle School

I am a middle school teacher and this was in our library. This book is not appropriate for middle school students. It is more for high school students. The language is something I hear students say but the F word is way to normal in this story. The discussion of a boy coming out and the interaction with another boy the reader is able to assume and infer what is going on in an intimate way.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide