has a new novel out next week that is going to make teens think. While her books are too serious for me now, Ms. Hopkins's work is something that was certainly missing when I was a young adult ...and something I would have enjoyed then.
She explores all sorts of explosive topics and I love that. In some circles that makes her controversial, but well, I'll put it like this: In one of my all time favoirte films the character of Stephen Hopkins, signer of the Declaration of Independence, is quoted as saying, "...in all my years I ain't never heard, seen nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn't be talked about. Hell yeah! I'm for debating anything!"
Now I have no idea whether the man actually said it, but I agree with him whole heartedly. That's how I feel about Ms. Hopkins's books; they make you think and what could possibly be wrong with that? I'm glad they're out there and when my daughter is ready to read them, I will love reading discussing them with her.
Here's a little bit about her latest, Rumble
Can an atheist be saved? The New York Times bestselling author of Crank and Tricks explores the highly charged landscapes of faith and forgiveness with brilliant sensitivity and emotional resonance.
“There is no God, no benevolent ruler of the earth, no omnipotent grand poobah of countless universes. Because if there was...my little brother would still be fishing or playing basketball instead of fertilizing cemetery vegetation.”
Matthew Turner doesn’t have faith in anything.
Not in family—his is a shambles after his younger brother was bullied into suicide. Not in so-called friends who turn their backs when things get tough. Not in some all-powerful creator who lets too much bad stuff happen. And certainly not in some “It Gets Better” psychobabble.
No matter what his girlfriend Hayden says about faith and forgiveness, there’s no way Matt’s letting go of blame. He’s decided to “live large and go out with a huge bang,” and whatever happens happens. But when a horrific event plunges Matt into a dark, silent place, he hears a rumble…a rumble that wakes him up, calling everything he’s ever disbelieved into question.
A Conversation with Ellen Hopkins
Author of RUMBLE
Q: The idea for
RUMBLE came about after an exchange with a teenager on Facebook. You must get
hundreds of messages from teens daily. What was so striking about this
response to a mosque bombing in the news, I posted, "We all serve one
Creator." This young woman, 16, responded, "It's awfully arrogant of
you to think I have to believe in anything." That struck me because my own
teen years were all about asking big questions: "What if God isn't what
I've been taught he is?" "Can there be life after death without a
God?" "Could the energy physicists describe in fact be our
souls?" "How do we reconcile faith with science?" To have no
belief, and be satisfied with that, seemed counterintuitive to being a teen.
Q: To build on that last question, you believe that teens
should be asking big questions rather than cutting themselves off from
possibilities. Why do you think it is so crucial, particularly for teens, to
constantly consider “what if”?
"what if," where would we be? Still living in caves, eating grubs?
The human intellect requires "what if" to move forward. Teens are the
near future. They must question the status quo, and what they've been taught as
"absolute truth" or condemn the future to the same mistakes their
parents and grandparents made.
Q: What do you think of adults trying to censor teens either
through what they read or what they write (as we see in RUMBLE)?
the same reason they try to censor anything—fear.
Q: You’ve said that
the voice of your main character, Matt Turner, is the strongest and most unlike
your own that you’ve ever created. Why? Did this make it more challenging to
is able to channel the immense pain he holds inside through dark humor and
sarcasm, not that everyone appreciates it. I'm more straightforward, including
in my storytelling. It was actually fun to write a "sneak up from
behind" kind of kid.
Q: Both extremes—atheism and fundamentalism—are represented
in RUMBLE and interestingly enough they are represented by a boyfriend and
girlfriend. Why did you choose to have Matt (the atheist) fall in love with
Hayden (the evangelical)?
often operates outside of boundaries, doesn't it? I think there is a drive in
some people to challenge boundaries, climb over (or knock down) obstacles,
experience discomfort. And sometimes chemistry trumps intellect.
Q: Bullying and
suicide are major issues in RUMBLE. Matt’s brother, Luke, takes his own life
after a group of teens discover he is gay and “out” him in the most humiliating
way on social media. Does the internet make it easier for people to taunt and
bully? What kind of research did you do on these issues and did you discover
networking is a weapon for kids who might not otherwise bully because they
don't have to measure the pain they're inflicting by looking into their
victims' eyes. Plus, "friends" can join in so easily. Rarely is it
one person bullying in this fashion, and that is where the bullied kid begins
to feel like there's no way out. It's a pack mentality. I did a lot of
research, and it was the sheer number of kids who have been bullied that surprised
me. Plus, the reason most of those who resort to suicide is they suffer from
depression beyond that caused by the negative behaviors.
Q: PTSD is a topic you’ve written about in the past with
your debut adult novel Collateral.
Why did you choose to revisit it in RUMBLE?
continues to be a growing problem in this country, as more of our soldiers have
returned home from war and are trying to assimilate. It's no secret that many
veterans aren't getting the help they seriously need, and I think it's
important to remind people of that. PTSD doesn't always manifest itself
immediately. It can happen years down the line, and resources must be kept
available well into the future.
Q: What do you hope people will take away from reading
forgiveness and redemption are only possible if you accept them, and that's all
about accepting yourself.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: Tangled, my next adult novel—in prose!—is
finished and in production, to release Summer 2015. I'm currently writing the
next YA—not in prose! Traffick is the
sequel to Tricks, and will publish
Want to win a copy of Rumble before it comes out? Click here: