On Crank and Glass

The Secret's Out

By Terri Clark

We who have a voice must speak for the voiceless.

–Archbishop Oscar Romero

Ellen Hopkins has a voice, one that speaks in rhythm and verse, with truth and grit. She speaks for the voiceless, revealing their tragedies, exposing their complex personal layers, whispering their secrets. In lyrical tones and sparse but striking words she delves into the darkness many real-life teens find themselves in. She tells the stories they hide from or hold tight to their chests.

The endings of those stories aren’t always happy, but then again neither is reality. Because of this Ellen refuses to tie things up with a perfect, pretty bow. When a reader fussed about her endings on a message board, Ellen responded by saying, “Life rarely ties everything up nicely, and while often novels do, those feel-good endings are contrived. I’d rather give you honesty.”

And that she does.

Her books tackle tough, often taboo, topics like addiction; rape; physical, emotional and sexual abuse; suicide; cutting; alcoholism; repression; neglect; mental illness; incest; and prostitution. While few would dare, Ellen Hopkins steps into the shadows and embraces the secrets stashed there. She shatters the silence.

Ask her if she realizes what a strong theme secrets are in her work and she says, “Of course. In all my books. Secrets kept. Secrets exposed. Secrets confessed, but no one will listen. But almost every piece of good literature has a secret in it somewhere.”

So what is it with Ellen and secrets?

What is it with teens and secrets?

For Ellen, at least, the  …

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