Ellen Hopkins


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About the Book

Sometimes you don't wake up. But if you happen to, you know things will never be the same.


Three lives, three different paths to the same destination: Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital for those who have attempted the ultimate act — suicide. Vanessa is beautiful and smart, but her secrets keep her answering the call of the blade. Tony, after suffering a painful childhood, can only find peace through pills. And Conner, outwardly, has the perfect life. But dig a little deeper and find a boy who is in constant battle with his parents, his life, himself.


In one instant each of these young people decided enough was enough. They grabbed the blade, the bottle, the gun — and tried to end it all. Now they have a second chance, and just maybe, with each other's help, they can find their way to a better life — but only if they're strong and can fight the demons that brought them here in the first place.



Without Warning



you’re traveling

a highway, the only road

you’ve ever known,

and wham! A semi

comes from nowhere

and rolls right over you.



you don’t wake up.

But if you happen

to, you know things

will never be

the same.



that’s not

so bad.



lives intersect,

no rhyme, no reason,

except, perhaps,

for a passing semi.



Review from MySpace.com

Impulse deals with teen suicide—or, more accurately, attempted suicide, since most of its characters end up alive and better off than they were at the book’s beginning. The book is set at a psychiatric hospital for teenagers, “a place no reasonable person would ever want to go.” The three main characters each have their own problems and ideas about how they want to die. Bipolar cutter Vanessa, whose “demons…keep on howling, like Mama, when she was in a bad way,” slit her wrists. Gorgeous, rich over-achiever Conner, who believes that “trust is just another five letter word, one that comes before not,” shot himself in the heart. Charismatic Tony, the homeless “boy with the hellfire eyes,” intentionally overdosed to end a life of unspeakable abuse. At first, the three seem to have “nothing in common except age, proximity, and a wish to die.” But as they discover each other’s innate decency and share their histories of neglect and physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, they forge bonds that although deep and real may not be enough to save them.


Hopkins has said that her “books are not about the things that happen to…characters, but rather about how those characters react to those things.” This is a perfect description of Impulse, a tragic yet hopeful, compulsively readable journey into three bright and damaged kids’ interior lives.