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. Only her sister Jackie knows what happened that fatal night, but she is stuck at home with their mother, who clings to normalcy by allowing the truth to be covered up by their domineering community leaders. Her father might be finally gone, but without Pattyn, Jackie is desperately isolated.
Alone and in disguise, Pattyn starts a new life as a migrant worker on a California ranch. 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.
*Warning: There will be spoilers from Burned by Ellen Hopkins. Read at your own risk!*
After reading Burned, I had very low expectations for Smoke. Not that I expected Smoke to be bad, just that I didn’t want to get my hopes high that Pattyn would actually get a happy ending. That just didn’t seem like Hopkins style. That being said, I was surprisingly satisfied with how this book ended and I’m so glad she gave us a sequel to Burned because I needed that closure.
Smoke is actually told in alternating POVs of Pattyn and her younger sister Jackie. The novel begins with Pattyn on the run after the death of her father and Jackie dealing with the repercussions (or lack there of) of what happened prior to her father’s death. Both Pattyn and Jackie’s stories are heartbreaking to say the least. They’ve gone through a lot, beginning with their father’s physical abuse and then dealing with death and in Jackie’s case rape (this happens at the start of the novel so you’re not being spoiled).
I truly liked nothing about Pattyn and Jackie’s mother. I wanted to be sympathetic because her husband was abusive but I believe there’s a difference between being a victim of abuse and than using that as an excuse for not taking care of your kids. Especially in the case of Jackie, her mother was not there for her at all and it was painful to read just how much her mother threw Jackie under the bus in order to satisfy her own needs.
It was also painful to see Pattyn continue to mourn the deaths of Ethan and her unborn child. Going on the run while dealing with that pain and then the confusing feelings about her father’s death was hard to read.
As always though, Hopkins writing was beautiful poetic and even the parts that made me cry sounded beautiful. I love Hopkins writing style and loved it even more in this novel. She handled so many issues in this novel, including hate crimes, with such sensitivity that you know this book was written with care.
Also liked the introduction of new characters like Adriana, Angel, and Gavin. I won’t say where they come in because that would spoil it but I thought they were all great for the Von Stratten sisters and I’m glad Pattyn and Jackie had them, as well as Aunt J, Kevin, and another family member that made a surprise appearance.
Though I’ll probably never read this book again because it was incredibly dark, despite the beautiful ending, I still think you should buy it just because I now what to share with everyone. Go read this book if you haven’t already.
“Hell is alive in hearts emptied of love.”