Tilt by Ellen Hopkins
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
Review copy received at SIBA
Three teenagers are featured in Tilt, tied together by the relationships of their parents. Mikayla is seventeen and head-over-heels in love with her boyfriend, Dylan, but when the unthinkable happens to her, everything about their relationship changes and she’s left shattered and alone. Shane is sixteen and happily dating his boyfriend Alex, who is HIV-positive. Living with his sister’s illness, Shane stares impending death in the face almost every day, so Shane has to make a conscious decision to continue to be in a relationship with someone terminally ill. Harley is the youngest of the kids, just fourteen, and she’s desperately searching for a boy who will love her – regardless of what she has to do to earn that love. These three teenagers are deeply affected by their parents’ decisions, and the choices the three of them make will have drastic consequences.
I don’t think I’ve read an Ellen Hopkins book that I didn’t enjoy, and Tilt fits neatly into that category. In this case, I had previously read Triangles, the companion book to this one that features these teens’ parents (and was Hopkins’ first adult book). The fact that I had already gotten to know these kids through their parents’ eyes made the reading experience all the more interesting and compelling.
There are some really heartbreaking moments in this book, and Hopkins handles them with her usual mixture of brutal honesty, grace, and beautiful writing. None of these characters lives an easy life, and while they each make bad choices, what teenager doesn’t? The important thing is how they end up seeing their bad choices for what they are and resolving to do the right thing next time. That doesn’t happen exactly in the perfect way, but you’ll see. These are smart kids who want to do right.
I can’t say much else about Tilt without spoilers, but I will say that if you have enjoyed Hopkins’ books in the past, definitely pick this one up. And if you haven’t, what are you waiting for? She writes gorgeous novels in verse about teens in crisis. I highly recommend checking out her work.