Ellen Hopkins


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About the Book

I am honored to say that Tricks debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List, in its very first week. Thanks so much to my fabulous readers for their continued and growing support! I couldn’t have done it without you. Tricks tells the story of five very different young people, from five very different parts of the country, who fall into prostitution for five very different reasons. For all of them, as for most real teen prostitutes, it boils down to one simple thing: survival.





As For My Body

I Am Less Than a Ghost


I am a corpse, sleepwalking the streets

of Las Vegas. Sometimes I think


I should just head on out into the desert,

lay down on a soft mattress of sand,


close my eyes against the diamond sun

and circling black wings. And wait.


It might be preferable to this cement bed

behind a Seven-Eleven dumpster.


There are lots of us living on the street.

They say Vegas is easier than Reno. Warmer.


There are shelters, I’ve been told, where

you can eat free. Shower sometimes. Sleep.


But I’m afraid of the questions. Too many

questions. So when my stomach offers up


its acid; when I can’t stand the hollowness

for another second, I sell one more slice


of my soul. One slice, twenty dollars. I’ve been

here three weeks. Not much left of my soul.

It’s battered, scraped, bruised. The Tears

of Zion shift looks about a hundred years old.


I did spend a few bucks at the Salvation Army.

Bought a used skirt, two tank tops. Underwear.


I hate to think who used them, or why they gave

them away. But they only cost a dime a piece.


I stink, too. I’ve managed a four or five showers,

when the man of the hour wanted to spring for


a motel room. More often, it’s the seat of his car.

Quick and easy, five minutes or less. No emotion.


No pain. And the weirdest thing is, I’m not

the least bit embarrassed about doing it anymore.


That’s the worst part. That, and when my brain

insists on remembering Andrew. Thinking


about how he held me, rained his love down

all around me, brings devouring pain.


So I’ll think instead about the coming night, where

I might peddle the remaining tatters of my soul.

reviews from Publishers Weekly:


Hopkins again tackles a serious societal problem, this time focusing on teen prostitution. Fans of her work will recognize both her signature free verses and the gritty details she weaves within them. Newcomers, however, may be shocked by the graphic depictions of five struggling teens who find themselves turning tricks (one realizes her mother has sold her “for a good time” with a stranger, while another recounts “pretending to enjoy... deviant sex” to earn the trust of a guard at an ultra-strict religious rehabilitation camp). Some plotting seems clichéd, such as the story of a preacher's daughter from Idaho, whose mother banishes her to the Tears of Zion camp after catching her with her boyfriend. While each story unfolds slowly, readers will understand the protagonists' desperation as well as their complete powerlessness once their descents have begun. Each story is unique (one teen needs money, another was thrown out because of his sexuality, still another was simply looking for love from the wrong person); while readers may connect with some characters more than others, they will long remember each painful story. Ages 14–up. (Aug.)




Review for TRICKS