Ellen Hopkins


Buy the book

About the Book

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.



Have Faith

That’s what people keep telling me.

Faith that things will get better. Faith

that bad things happen for a reason.

Implicit in that ridiculous statement

is the hand of some extraterrestrial

magician. Some all-powerful creator


which, if his faithful want to be totally

frank about it, would also make him/her/it

an omnipotent destroyer. Because if

some God carefully sows each seed

of life, he is also flint for the relentless

sun beating down upon his crops until


they wither into dust. Zygotes to ashes

or some other poignant phrase. And why

would any of that make someone feel

better about snuffing out? The end

result is the same. You get a few

years on this sad, devolving planet.


If you’re lucky, you experience love,

someone or two or three to gentle

your time, fill the hollow spaces.

If you’re really fortunate, the good

outweighs the bad. In my eighteen years

all I’ve seen is shit tipping the scales.

Case in Point

I’ve been abruptly summoned to

the front of the classroom, at the urgent

request of my English teacher, the oh-so-

disturbed, Savannah-belle-wannabe,

Ms. Hannity, emphasis on the Mizz.

She pretends sympathy, for what,

I’ve no clue, and like she gives half


a damn about anything but clinging,

iron-fisted, to her job. Mr. Turnahhhh.

Fake “South” taints her voice, and

her eyes—no doubt she’d describe

them as “cornflower”—are wide

with mock concern. Would you

please come he-ah for a minute?


I think she thinks she’s whispering,

but twenty-seven pairs of eyes home

in on me. I straight-on laser every one

until they drop like dead fly duos.

“Yes, ma’am?” The feigned respect

isn’t lost on her, and she doesn’t bother


to lower her voice. Mistah Carpentah

wishes a word with you. Please see

him now. And the rest of y’all, get back

to work. This doesn’t concern you.

In the Narrow Pewter Space

Between the gray of consciousness

and the obsidian where dreams

ebb and flow, there is a wishbone

window. And trapped in its glass,

a single silver shard of enlightenment.


It is this mystics search for. The truth

of the Holy Grail. It is this believers

pray for. The spark, alpha and omega.

It is this the gilded claim to hold

in the cups of their hands. But what


of those who plunge into slumber,

who snap from sleep’s embrace?

What of those who measure their

tomorrows with finite numbers, cross

them off their calendars one by


one? Some say death is a doorway,

belief the key. Others claim you only

have to stumble across the threshold

to glimpse a hundred billion universes

in the blink of single silver shard.

reviews from Publishers Weekly:


Almost six months after his younger brother’s suicide, a high school senior slogs through tangled resentment and guilt.Matt’s world has never been rich with happiness, what with his cold parents who retreat “to their separate alcohol-soaked / corners.” Dad bitterly rues the one-night stand that created Matt and forced the marriage; their house “is a sponge, / absorbing regret until it can hold / no more and disillusionment drips // through the bloated pores.” Now Matt shoulders his own crushing regret. Luke was three years younger—Matt should have protected him from the homophobic and religious bullies; he should have told adults how depressed Luke was, even sneaking Mom’s Prozac, which can be dangerous for teens. He definitely shouldn’t have been distracted by his girlfriend on Luke’s last, desperate day. Now that very girlfriend seems to be “trading [Matt] in // for Jesus.” The sturdy, fast-reading free-verse poems—which sometimes shift into elegance—give a heavy sense of Matt’s anger and discomfort, as well as how he vacillates between decency and churlishness. Themes of combat-induced PTSD, Christian fundamentalist bigotry, forgiveness, and foreshadowed violence integrate deftly. The climax surprises in the best way. Brief but explicit acknowledgement of the It Gets Better campaign (and why it didn’t help Luke) grounds the contemporary setting.Readers devour Hopkins regardless, but this is strong and worthy. (Verse fiction. 14-18) —Kirkus Reviews



Review for RUMBLE