Ellen Hopkins


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About the Book

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?

Dear, Sweet God

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.

The Bus Is Crowded

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 . . .

But Some I Can’t Miss

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



Review for SMOKE