Pattyn Von Stratten’s father is dead, and Pattyn is on the run. After far too many years of abuse at the hands of her father, and after the tragic loss of her beloved Ethan and their unborn child, Pattyn is desperate for peace. But is it even possible to rebuild a life when everything you’ve known has burned to ash and lies seem far safer than the truth?
Bestselling author Ellen Hopkins continues the riveting story of Pattyn Von Stratten she began in Burned to explore what it takes to rise from the ashes, put ghosts to rest, and step into a future.
Forgive me. I don’t know what to do.
Where to go. How to feel. I’m perched
on the precipice, waiting for the cliff
to crumble. No way to change what
happened. What’s done is done and I . . .
I can’t think about it. If I do, I’ll throw up
right here. Bile boils in my gut, erupts
in my esophagus. I gulp it down, close
my eyes. But I can still see him, lying there.
Can still hear the gurgle in his throat.
Still smell the rich, rusty perfume of blood
pooling around him. I so wanted him dead.
My father. Stephen Paul Von Stratten.
The bastard who beat my mother. Beat
my sister. Beat me. The son of a bitch
who was responsible for the accident
that claimed my Ethan—catapulted him
wherever you go when you die. Our unborn
baby rode into that wilderness with him.
Dear, cruel God. Why couldn’t I go, too?
I chose a seat near the back, away
from the driver. Mistake. Too close
to the bathroom. It stinks of urine
and worse. Every now and again
someone goes in there and then it
smells like marijuana, though smoking
is prohibited on all Greyhounds.
At least that’s what the signs say.
Not like the driver cares. Easier not
to interfere with derelicts, dopers,
failed gamblers, and crazies. Oddly,
I feel safe enough among them.
Like freeway drivers in separate cars,
all going the same direction at the same
time, each passenger here has a unique
destination. A personal story. I try
not to listen. Try to tune the voices
out. Don’t need other people’s drama.
Somewhere behind me, a couple
has argued for an hour. Seems
he was up two hundred dollars
at Circus Circus. But she dropped
that, plus three hundred more,
which explains why they’re :
riding a piss-smelling bus home
stead of getting a little cooch
in a cozy motel room before
catching the morning Amtrak.
Kitty-corner and a couple rows
up, two blue-silver haired women
talk about their husbands, kids, and
grandkids. One of them got lucky
on dollar slots. Now she can pay
her electric bill and have enough
left over to put some back into
our savings. Shouldn’t have
took it out for this trip, but I
just had one of those feelings . . .
reviews from BOOKLIST and VOYA:
"Hopkins' riveting story line is full of the perpetual premonition of danger, and the simple free-verse format belies the complexity of both plot and craft...a compelling and thought-provoking read." —Booklist
"The book is rife with real issues and demanding attention, leaving the reader to realize that when the smoke clears, redemption is always possible. In the end, voices are heard that refuse to be silenced and the empowerment that comes with the character’s decisions transcend the page and leave much to be discussed and contemplated among readers." — (starred review) —VOYA