Margaret K. McElderry Books
Reviewed by Nancy
5 out of 5 stars
Five teenagers from different parts of the country. Three girls. Two guys. Four straight. One gay. Some rich. Some poor. Some from great families. Some with no one at all. All living their lives as best they can, but all searching...for freedom, safety, community, family, love. What they don't expect, though, is all that can happen when those powerful little words "I love you" are said for all the wrong reasons.
Five moving stories remain separate at first, then interweave to tell a larger, powerful story -- a story about making choices, taking leaps of faith, falling down, and growing up. A story about kids figuring out what sex and love are all about, at all costs, while asking themselves, "Can I ever feel okay about myself?"
When I went to pick this book up at the library, I was surprised at how small and fat it was. Great, just what I need…a 600+ page book and hardly enough time to read. When I opened up the book and glanced at the first few pages, I was delighted and shocked the margins were so wide and there were no more than seven words per line. Then I thought, “wait a minute, this is freakin’ poetry!” Since I read so little poetry and never developed an appreciation for it, I left the library slightly disappointed. Well, Tricks isn’t exactly poetry, but a novel written in verse. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put the book down. Dishes were piling up, dust bunnies were fighting back, and I was late to work.
Tricks is a story about five deeply troubled teenagers, all from different areas, backgrounds, and family situations who end up falling into prostitution.
Each character has a story to tell. These stories are brief, and jump from one character to the next and back again. At the beginning, I was a little frustrated at how short their stories were and was afraid that I would not be able to distinguish one character from the next. It turns out there was no need to worry. Hopkins does a brilliant job of infusing her characters with life, personality and emotions. As I continued to read, and the characters’ situations became more harrowing, I found the stories very intense and was relieved there was some separation. I was also surprised at how much I enjoyed the writing style. These stories told in verse allowed me to get into the minds and feelings of the characters without extraneous detail, and helped me feel a deeper connection with them.
Tricks broke my heart and made my stomach churn. The stories were gripping, painful, and honest. My own teenage years, painful memories, wrong choices, and difficulty with parents all came flooding back. I wish my own parents could have read a book like this, just to see how their own behavior and actions could irreparably damage a child’s life.