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Pattyn's father is dead and now she is on the run. Pattyn needs peace after far too many years of abuse from her father and the death of her boyfriend Ethan and their unborn child. Only Pattyn and her sister Jackie know what happen the night their father died. Pattyn attempts to rebuild her life in disguise as a migrant worker on a California farm. Jackie has to deal with the aftermath of rape and she is stuck at home with their mother who blindly clings to normalcy in a community bent on covering up the truth. Will either of the two sisters be able to move on and rebuild their lives when everything they know has been irrevocably changed?
Before I picked up this audiobook from the library I had never read anything by Ellen Hopkins, not even the first installment of this series, Burned. Fortunately, this novel offers an excellent jumping in place as I felt like I knew enough to begin here. I didn't feel confused starting with the sequel. That's not to say I didn't have a few questions, primarily about Ethan and what, exactly, happened to him.
Smoke is very much a character-driven novel and although I was just introduced to the characters here, I felt like I really got to know them. Both Jackie and Pattyn are well-written and I could watch them grow into themselves over the course of the novel. Although horrifying, the events surrounding their lives feel stunningly real and gritty. I felt in the moment with the characters during their all too realistic lives.
Ellen Hopkins does not shy away from difficult and heavy topics and I respect her for it. I also respect that while her characters are struggling to deal with these immense weights that she casts no judgments upon their actions.
I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by January LaVoy and Candace Thaxton. Although I couldn't visually see Hopkins' verse format on the page, the audio production blew me away.
I highly recommend this addictive novel that doesn't neglect to push the boundaries. I will most likely return for Burned.
I listened to this audiobook from October 14 - 17, 2014 and my review is also on Goodreads.