Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
Tricks Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Extremely intense, gritty look at teen prostitutes.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 14 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Could open up discussion on a wide variety of subjects, including teen prostitution, abusive homes -- even book censorship. Parents may want to read or at least skim through the book first to prepare themselves for their teens' questions or reactions. 

Positive Messages

The author powerfully demonstrates how easily children can be manipulated by adults. All but one of the teens here had a loving home at one point, but still eventually ended up trading sex for a living. The author also points to resources for teens in trouble.

Positive Role Models & Representations

All the teen protagonists resort to selling their bodies, though they are sympathetic characters and readers will learn a lot from their stories.


A girl is raped by strangers after her mother sells her. Another character is beaten up and ends up nearly dying in the hospital.


Graphic depictions of sex for money, drugs, or power -- and occasionally sex for love.


All the biggies, including adult language for sex acts and drugs.


A few mentions of brands like Gap, Coke, Kool cigarettes, Tundra, etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink and do drugs. One even shoots heroin.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book is about teen prostitution and features graphic depictions of sex. The teens in this book have sex with men and women, trade sex for money and drugs, and are forced to make pornographic movies, have threesomes, etc. One character is raped in two different instances when her mother sells her to strangers. There is harsh language, drug use, and violence throughout.  The author powerfully demonstrates how easily children can be manipulated by adults. All but one of the teens here had a loving home at one point, but still eventually ended up trading sex for a living. The author also points to resources for teens in trouble.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byzeldromc June 9, 2017

Tragic Beauty

This book has a lot of intense language and sex as well as abuse and addiction. It teaches teens how easy it is to get pulled into a life of prostitution and ad... Continue reading
Adult Written bySarabeth_Sarbear December 13, 2011

Open Minded

I think its a wonderful book. Because in a way i relate to it. Its a great way to give a teen something that they can relate to and see how she(Ellen Hopkins) h... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byMinttea April 27, 2020
This book was very well written, and it expressed the struggles of living a life like that very accurately. It is a very heartbreaking book. It contains themati... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byevrska9 July 5, 2017

Gives You the Harsh Reality of Life

This book is gripping and really shows what can happen when you stumble down the wrong path. All of the characters, from the gay farm boy to the runaway rich gi... Continue reading

What's the story?

Hopkins weaves the lives of five teens who sell themselves for money, security, drugs, and power. Ginger ends up stripping after running away from an abusive mother, while Whitney is manipulated into prostitution by a man who she thinks she loves. Seth is kicked out of the house by his father when he discovers he's gay and ends up being \"kept\" by an older man.

Is it any good?

The characters all seem a bit too archetypical (the gay farm boy, the rich girl who feels unloved by her mother) but because the stories are written in verse, the pages turn quickly. The details are gritty and gripping: Mature readers and Hopkins fans will likely be drawn in, but sensitive readers will find the raw material overwhelming and will likely need some parental guidance.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about prostitution. What are some of the reasons that characters here are driven to prostitution? What would you do to stop this problem?

  • Some of the material here is very graphic -- from depictions of sex acts to descriptions of drug use. At what point is the material inappropriate for teen readers? Should a book ever be censored?

  • Ellen Hopkins has written other books in free verse, like Glass and Impulse. Do you think books written this way are easier to read? How about to write?

Book details

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