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Impulse by Ellen Hopkins This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

What consequences do you face when you act on impulse? Three very different teenagers brought together by their mutual death wishes meet in a psychiatric treatment center. Tony, Vanessa, and Conner all tried to end their lives in different ways for different reasons. They're as surprised as anyone that they become a tight-knit group. Tony is a gay guy from the wrong side of the tracks, Conner's a jock who seems to have the perfect life despite his desire to die, and Vanessa is a cutter who is constantly riding her own bipolar seesaw. Will they make it out of this place alive? Do they even want to?

Ellen Hopkins' Impulse is just one of her many books that cover tough issues, ­including mental illness, ­homosexuality, religion, and suicide. But unlike some overrated and unrealistic young adult novels, Hopkins' works have never ceased to please me with their dark, realistic tone. Impulse is no exception. While it can be easy to mess up a book focused on the thoughts and feelings of those inhabiting their own cloud of mental illness, this book does not disappoint.

There is little room to take a break from Impulse. Despite its daunting 666 pages and obscure prose, it's almost impossible to put down. I found myself thinking, Just ten more pages. But that ten more pages would become a hundred before I could even tear my eyes away.

Perhaps it's the fascinating content that sucked me in, but even with the characters' imperfections, I couldn't help but love them. Whether you've always hated the jocks, or previously thought bipolar disorder to be a joke, it'll be difficult to finish this book without feeling a touch of sympathy for Tony, Vanessa, and Conner.

I really admire the light this book brings to the blackened corners where the truth of mental illness lurks. With this book, you get a real feel for how miserable someone can be – even when their life looks perfect.

If you're looking for a light read, Impulse isn't for you. Warning: you can't be afraid to cry. This book is thought-provoking, beautiful, and utterly relatable, whether you think you fit the label of “crazy” or not.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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