The You I’ve Never Known
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre/Themes: YA Fiction, Contemporary, Social Issues, LGBTQIA+
Release Date: January 24th 2017
Page Count: 608
*Disclaimer: I was provided with an ARC of The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins through Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my opinion or rating in any way.
Ellen Hopkins has been at the top of my favourite authors list probably since about the time I was in grade 9. Which would be about 12 years ago now…okay, before I go through an existential crisis, you should know that I was beyond excited when I found out that Ellen Hopkins had a new novel that would be released this year. Not only that, but I literally freaked out when I found out I’d have the opportunity to read and review it for Big City Bookworm! The You I’ve Never Known is a perfect addition to the wonderful world of Ellen Hopkins and I really enjoyed reading it!
(in my opinion, this synopsis gives away some key elements of the story that I wish I hadn’t known about before going into the novel. It spoils something that would have made a great twist if I hadn’t known from the synopsis on the back of the book. Continue at your own discretion.)
Arielle’s life is a blur of new apartments, new schools, and new faces. Since her mother abandoned the family, Arielle has lived nomadically with her father as he moves from job to job. All she’s ever wanted is to stay in one place for an entire school year, and it looks like she might finally get her wish. With a real friend, Monica, who might be even more than a friend soon, things are starting to look up. But Arielle’s life is upended—and not by her father, but by her mom, who reveals that she never left Arielle. Instead, Arielle’s father kidnapped her, and her mom has been left searching ever since. She wants to take Arielle away, but Arielle has no connection with her mother, and despite everything, still loves her father. How can she choose between the mother she’s been taught to mistrust and the father who sewed that suspicion?
What I Liked
The dual perspective. After reading the first few chapters from Ariel’s perspective, the reader is introduced to the new point of view of Maya. I loved the dual perspectives as it showcased these two different girls and their very different, yet uniquely troublesome lives. Ariel lives on the road with her father and she has never had the opportunity to live in the same place for very long until now. As a teenager, Maya becomes pregnant with the child of an older man. Eventually these two characters and their complicated stories become intertwined.
The characters. As the book went on, I really started to enjoy reading about all of the characters. I enjoyed slowly learning about Ariel’s past as well as her present struggle with self-discovery as I read through each chapter. I liked reading about her two love interests, Monica and Gabe, and how Ariel knew she loved them both, but for different reasons. Even though Ariel’s father wasn’t the greatest person (I’m trying not to spoil things here), it was interesting to learn about his past and the issues that he had to deal with…which probably caused him to do half of things that he did.
The writing style. Ellen Hopkins is known for writing in prose. I LOVE her writing, and I have ever since I was an early teenager. I had never read anything written in prose before reading Crank and because it was something so new to me, I absolutely loved it. Her books look huge and intimidating at first glance, but they are so fast paced and they move so smoothly while also being so beautifully written.
It was different. Different in the sense that it was very unlike the many other books that I have read by Ellen Hopkins in the past. It was a lot lighter…which is kind of funny considering that The You I’ve Never Known contains some pretty serious subject matter. It’s just that in comparison to some of the topics that Ellen Hopkins has covered in the past (of which I have read) this was pretty tame…which was a really nice and interesting change.
What I Didn’t Like
The spoiler synopsis. I really REALLY wish that I hadn’t read the description on the back of this book. I felt like it gave so much away and basically spoiled what could have been a pretty great twist/shock.
Overall, I’m still beyond excited that I was able to read and review this for Big City Bookworm. I really enjoyed The You I’ve Never Known and I can’t wait to read more from Ellen Hopkins in the future!
About The Author
Thank you for reading!