Tricks

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

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 13 reviews

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.

Violence

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

Sex

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

Language

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

Consumerism

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 bysnowball340G May 24, 2010
Adult Written byacrhodes April 4, 2010
Everyone of Ellen Hopkins books is outstanding. Tricks really does go there; this book really only describes reality. I think parents should suggests books like... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byblahchick_123 November 5, 2009

great book for teens

im soon goin to be able to get thsi book what i heard bout it so far is great ill comment after i read. :)
Teen, 14 years old Written bywhatevsbrosuckers February 21, 2013

my reivews

This is the only one of Ellens books I did not like and I've read most of them it is not okay for younger kids or teens

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

For kids who love challenging books

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