Published: September 11th, 2012
Publisher: Margaret K McElderry Books
Copy: Received for review
Three teens, three stories—all interconnected through their parents’ family relationships. As the adults pull away, caught up in their own dilemmas, the lives of the teens begin to tilt….
Mikayla, almost eighteen, is over-the-top in love with Dylan, who loves her back jealously. But what happens to that love when Mikayla gets pregnant the summer before their senior year—and decides to keep the baby?
Shane turns sixteen that same summer and falls hard in love with his first boyfriend, Alex, who happens to be HIV positive. Shane has lived for four years with his little sister’s impending death. Can he accept Alex’s love, knowing that his life, too, will be shortened?
Harley is fourteen—a good girl searching for new experiences, especially love from an older boy. She never expects to hurdle toward self-destructive extremes in order to define who she is and who she wants to be.
Love, in all its forms, has crucial consequences in this standalone novel.
The last time I tackled an Ellen Hopkins book was for a college course – I think it was Burned. I remember I powered through it in a day, so when Curlypow asked if I’d be willing to give Tilt a whirl (get it...Tilt-a-Whirl...), I said sure. I needed a switch-up anyways.
What I didn’t expect was to end up in one of my love/hate relationships with this book. I really enjoy that Hopkins approaches tough and sensitive topics with an honest and realistic view. Maybe it’s on the far end of the spectrum, but that’s the point, and I appreciate her willingness to get into the nitty-gritty parts, even when there’s no happy resolution for the characters.
Where my negativity comes into this novel, is that I didn’t get the necessity of having it in verse. With the exception of what I’ll call the ‘black pages’ – one page spiels from secondary characters, which also acted as segues into the next “chapter” – I found myself reading the book as I would a normal story. The only difference is that the text is arranged in cool shapes. The ‘black pages’ were great – I got the poetry and flow of words, I liked the secondary message created by pulling a single word from each stanza. I loved the way they eased the transition from one character’s point of view to the next. But the rest of the novel? It made no difference that this was in verse to me.
I bring this up, because I feel that it’s a large part of Hopkins’ appeal – she is one of very few (well published) authors who write in verse, let alone one who can regularly watch her books hit bestseller lists. And with the other title of hers I read, I got the verse. It added something to the story for me. Not so in this case.
The style aside, I enjoyed the book. I think it would make a great ISU title (as most of Hopkins’ books would), as it again deals with difficult issues: body image, family trouble, sexuality, HIV and dealing with a loved one who has a chronic disease, just to name a few. Her characters are honest and raw, and the relationships between them are revealed in a way which adds an extra layer of complexity without confusing the narrative.
Just a word to the wise –Hopkins isn’t shy or delicate, so this would be a title best for older/more mature teens.
Thank you once again to Special K for this great (and very fast) review.
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