Book Review | The You I’ve Never Known
Title: The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins
Genres: YA fiction, Contemporary, Verse
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Jan. 24, 2017)
How do you live your life if your past is based on a lie? A new novel in both verse and prose from #1 New York Times bestselling author, Ellen Hopkins.
For as long as she can remember, it’s been just Ariel and Dad. Ariel’s mom disappeared when she was a baby. Dad says home is wherever the two of them are, but Ariel is now seventeen and after years of new apartments, new schools, and new faces, all she wants is to put down some roots. Complicating things are Monica and Gabe, both of whom have stirred a different kind of desire.
Maya’s a teenager who’s run from an abusive mother right into the arms of an older man she thinks she can trust. But now she’s isolated with a baby on the way, and life’s getting more complicated than Maya ever could have imagined.
In bestselling author Ellen Hopkins’s deft hands, Ariel’s emotionally charged journey to find out the truth of who she really is balances beautifully with Maya’s story of loss and redemption. This is a memorable portrait of two young women trying to make sense of their lives and coming face to face with themselves—for both the last and the very first time.
What I Thought
*I received a e-copy of this book through JellyBooks in exchange for collecting my reading data. A huge thanks to them!*
First of all, I want to say that the summary I included in this post is not the full Goodreads summary. I found it to be rather spoiler-y, and I, personally, think it’s better to go into this book not knowing everything.
This was my first Ellen Hopkins book. Actually, when I selected this book, I didn’t even realize it was written by her until I started reading. In fact, if I’m being honest, had I realized who had written this book, I probably would have picked a different book. While I’ve never read any of her books before, I know the reputation her books have: dark, heavy, and written in verse. Plus, all her books are like, 600 pages. That being said, I am so glad I gave this book a chance!
I want to start by saying do not be intimidated by the size of this book! Yes, it’s over 600 pages, but the majority of this book is written in verse, so it really feels like a lot less. Also, I have not read many books written in verse, and I find them quite intimidating. However, I need to stop feeling that way, because every book that I have read so far that is written that way, I have thoroughly enjoyed, and The You I’ve Never Known is no exception. The poetry and beauty of the writing in this novel is just so delicious! The flow of sentences and the lyricism of the writing is so good. Adding on to that, because Ellen Hopkins’ writing is so wonderful, I really felt the emotion in the characters, especially Ariel. It was amazing and inspiring to watch her grow throughout this novel.
This book also occasionally alternates to Maya’s perspective. Her portion of the story is not written in verse, and I found the contrast to be refreshing. We do not get to read about Maya’s story as much, but despite that, I was still able to connect and invest in her story and who she is as a character just as much.
There is quite a bit of diversity in this novel as well. I loved the positive portrayal of Ariel’s best friend, Monica, and her family and their Hispanic heritage. Ariel coming to terms with her sexuality felt very honest and real as well.
This book has a lot of heavy content in it as well. Not only does it deal with hateful language, it also deals with abuse; emotional, physical, and in one instance, sexual. Because of this, I would definitely recommend this book to more mature teens. Do not let the heaviness deter you from reading this book though, because there are a lot of important topics in this book that need to be discussed, especially when it comes to abusive relationships. This book does such a wonderful job of getting inside the head of someone who stays with their abuser. I know a lot of people have trouble understanding why someone would stay in an abusive relationship, and even how they got there in the first place. The You I’ve Never Known shows just how easy it can be to be manipulated into one and how difficult it can be to get out.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. It was very thought-provoking and honest. I’m so glad I gave this novel by Ellen Hopkins a chance. I want to read more of her books now! I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a compelling, darker, contemporary read!