2016 Reading Challenge · Book review

POPSUGAR’s 2016 Reading Challenge: A book of poetry | Book review: Tricks

Gel’s little side note: Hey guys! How’s it going? So this was the first time that I read a poetry book (many thanks to the reading challenge) and I really enjoyed it! It’s a good change of everyday prose reading, and I’m excited to review the book. Having not enough “background” in poetry writing, I prefer not to focus on the verse itself. I’ll still do my best. Enjoy!

And this is not on schedule. Dammit. But that’s all right – I’m behind one review!

And oh yeah, I was supposed to review this book weeks ago, so the featured image might not be updated (I changed my site name, remember?). I’m a lazy ass to edit another one – so might as well use the old one.

Tricks Ellen Hopkins
Hopkins, E. (2011). [First published 2009]. Tricks. New York, NY: Margaret K. McElderly Books
Edition: Paperback, 625 pages

ISBN13: 9781416950073

Genres: Young Adult, Poetry, Contemporary

Characters: Eden Streit, Seth Parnell, Whitney Lang, Ginger Cordell, Cody Bennett

Setting: Las Vegas, Nevada; Boise, Idaho; Louisville, Kentucky; Perry County, Indiana; Santa Cruz, California; Barstow, California

Dates read: Feb. 2-Feb. 22, 2016

Means: I borrowed this from my friend (thanks, JM!).



My rating: 4/5 stars

See my Goodreads review version!


 “Five teenagers from all over the country. Three girls. Two guys. Four straight. One gay. Some rich. Some poor. Living their lives as best they can, but all searching… for freedom, safety, family, love. What they don’t expect, though, is all that can happen when those powerful little words “I love you” are said for the wrong reasons.

Five stories remain separate at first, then interweave to tell a larger story – about making choices, taking leaps of faith, falling down, and growing up. These teens are figuring out what sex and love are all about while asking, “Can I ever feel okay about myself?”

Comment on the cover:

 Not my everyday type of cover. It was intriguing, though. If I would ever encounter this in a bookstore, I would not impulsively buy this book for the cover alone.

It’s a different story when I happen look at the synopsis – now that becomes interesting. The helluvah weight of the book is deceiving, and it is 600+ pages! It’s a waste of paper – but it added to the dramatic effect of the stories. So no complaints.


 Every character, say, Eden would have a part where it goes like this (this was my favorite first-part): Nevermind, it was too long. I’ll just describe the features.

You know when there are one or two words in a poem that are separated from the verse? And then when you finished a piece, you just look at those separated words and BAM, they meant something! I found that brilliant. When I flipped on the very first page, I was amazed by the layout.

Also, the titles on the succeeding poems were a like a preceding line from the first line of the verse itself (gosh, too many tongue-twister and whatnot). Just let me illustrate it, a sneak peek from p. 257:

Twenty Minutes Later

I am in Andrew’s arms, crying softly

against his chest. He lets me whimper…

The title was dumbly “Twenty Minutes Later”. Reading the first hundred pages or so, I still could not get the hang of it. And oftentimes I found myself confused, like something was missing.

So after some idiot moments of mine, I learned my lesson and ALWAYS looked at the title.

There are also times when the last word from the preceding character becomes the first word of the next character.

Honestly, I was really amazed by Hopkins’ talent.


Book discussion:

 This was my first time reading a narrative poetry. I deeply enjoyed it.

Being on the same age-level as the five teenagers (or maybe I’m older by one or two years), I was thinking all throughout the book how could I connect with each of the characters. I empathized with each of them, though of course had a little bias among one or two. I found myself shaking with anger or filling with sadness on most parts.

Tricks is a book touching a very sensitive subject matter – prostitution. Hopkins tells us that all the factors in a teen’s environment could mold him. These are teenagers that are in need of love and acceptance – but those who they thought they could lean on always fails them. I was a little sad and curious on how could teenagers resort to that kind of job – but reading through the book, I realized that some people just have no choice.

I recently watched a film called Esoterika: Maynila (2014) and I remembered this book when the protagonist asked a character why would he offer himself to an older man. The character replied, (NV): “Ganito talaga dito, minsan wala ka nang ibang magagawa, at kahit ano na lang ang gagawin mo.(It’s just the way it is here, sometimes you have no other choice, and you would just do anything.)

You could get lost in Hopkins’ words, and you might just find yourself deeply engrossed in the book. I took my time reading it – I want to absorb every bit of the poetry and emotion of each of the characters’ experience.

As much as I’ve enjoyed the book, I found it hard to get into the problems of the teenagers. My dull and boring life optimistic personality made it tough to fully grasp the hardships each of them encounters. But my journey is quite wonderful – it just shows that life isn’t perfect, and some people does not even have a house to call “home” and parents and friends to run into. I developed a deep respect for people who continues fighting even when life constantly drags them down.

Round up and recommendation:

 Besides from readers of the same genre, I think teenagers and parents should especially read this. Guardians could never know how their simple actions could ruin a teenager’s life. A journey to a teenager’s thoughts could shed a light on actions some people perceive to be rebellious or absurdity.

I know some of you would agree with me on this – comparison, hindrance to your dreams, or hurtful words or actions could render us helpless. We need to always lift ourselves up – because no one in this world could do it but ourselves.

Motivational Penguin GIF

Sample excerpt:

forgive me, I want to know what it means
to give myself to him so completely. Want

to feel what it’s  like when it’s absolutely
right. Not that I’ve felt it when it was wrong,

or felt “it” at all. But I don’t want my heart to feel
wrong about my body feeling good.

I Get What He Means, Ellen Hopkins, 2011, 89

Gel’s little side note: Thanks for reading! This review was so hard to write because it has a touchy subject matter. I think I haven’t fully grasped a deeper connection with the book – but I think a re-read in the future would change a lot of my initial thoughts. But I’m thankful to have read this novel.

See you soon on my next post!

12696147_1319386064753927_1974481395_nWhat is your favorite book of poetry?
Photo and GIFs taken from Goodreads, pinoyDVD, and ALL GIFs.

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