Today we are doing something a little different. The purpose of AB4T is to offer reviews of books published for the adult market that are recommended for teen readers. Triangles by Ellen Hopkins (Atria, ISBN 978-1451626339) is one that we didn’t feel we could allow to pass us by, even though it focuses on three middle-aged women. Hopkins is so popular with her teen fans; we know they will clamor for Triangles. In this case, we thought it would be useful to provide a longer summary and discussion of the appeal of the book. Many thanks to reviewer Jamie Watson, who was happy to offer her take on the novel.
from guest blogger Jamie Watson, Baltimore County Public Library:
Many of us “women of a certain age”’ graduated from our adolescent Judy Blumes to her adult novel Wifey. More than likely most of us “got it” plotwise, but did we really “get it?” After all, Judy Blume, our truthful chronicler of adolescence, had now shared emotions of characters we wouldn’t experience for another twenty years or so.
I thought of this experience often when reading Triangles, Ellen Hopkins’ intersecting story of three women in various stages of midlife crises. Holly is unfulfilled in her “perfect” marriage and begins having anonymous sex and writing erotica (really really really explicit erotica!). Marissa has a husband who sleeps in the guest room and two kids that she loves but also occasionally resents. Andrea is divorced, a bit bitter and trying to decide whether to take a chance again on love.
As an adult, I saw women (and men) making imperfect, often self-destructive choices. As a teen, I’m pretty sure I would have seen Holly as a frightful slut and all the men as pigs. It’s to Hopkins’ credit that she strongly portrays emotions that allow the reader to understand these choices. But what would teen reactions be to their Mom going to a sex club or their Dad having a 5-year affair with a coworker?
Another puzzle is “Who is this book really for?” I wonder about the reader of a “women’s novel” being attracted to the novel in verse format. And while each chapter ends with a poem that really sums up the emotions, the verse that moves the plot seems very weak. It reads completely like prose when reading aloud.
So maybe the book is really for adults who like young adult literature – a small, but growing market! Maybe the teens who read Crank 10 years ago might be ready to graduate to this one. Regardless, teens will want to read it, especially when Tilt, the teen companion novel about the children in Triangles, comes out in 2012.