* I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: The You I’ve Never Known
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Synopsis on Goodreads:
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. Ariel and Maya’s lives collide unexpectedly when Ariel’s mother shows up out of the blue with wild accusations: Ariel wasn’t abandoned. Her father kidnapped her fourteen years ago. What is Ariel supposed to believe? How can she choose between the mother she’s been taught to mistrust and the father who has taken care of her all these years?
I’d never read an Ellen Hopkins book until I picked up The You I’ve Never Known. I didn’t mind this story, but I can’t say that I loved it. I thought it was entertaining, dealt with some tough issues, and was quite readable. What I did like were her explorations of sexuality, family, friendship, and abuse. I thought these topics were real, raw, and relevant. It’s always nice to see YA books dealing with real life tough topics, making them more accessible to young readers.
I also thought it was different that the book is written mostly in verse, in a good way. I was skeptical and a bit nervous at first. I’m really not a poetry lover and I thought that’s what I’d gotten myself into with this one. But in fact, it was SO easy to read and I actually lost myself if the stanzas as I went a long, much the way I do in a good novel. Don’t be daunted by the form. It’s very easy to adjust to.
My main criticism is that I found it to be way too long and that it drags at times. The characters do start to grate a bit on you after a while and the story would be a lot stronger had it wrapped up earlier. I also saw the twist in this book coming from a mile away. No spoilies, but it’s not that hard to spot. I do love a good surprise ending in a book, but sadly, I could see right through this story. Still worth the read, but it’s not the best book I’ve ever read.