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Book Review: “The You I’ve Never Known” by Ellen Hopkins


Author: Ellen Hopkins

Title: The You I’ve Never Known

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Theme: gaslighting, self-identity, courage.


Ariel Pearson is far from a typical teenager – it’s just her and her father, Mark Pearson, who have moved more times than Ariel can remember. Being stuck with a verbally abusive, controlling dad is devastating to her because, although she loves him, she always questions his motives. Now throw Maya into the mix, who becomes pregnant and marries the father of her child as a way to escape her mothers tight hold and control over her life.

But then it all comes crashing down around them.

Ariel’s father has been gaslighting her for her entire life, and Maya has ended up in the worst possible marriage situation you could image. Will they ever be able to pick up the pieces?


Ellen Hopkins has seriously done it again. This is why I love her books – they are so in-your-face, and blunt about sensitive material. I finished this book in like 3 days, so it’s a quick read for anyone who is looking to add a new genre to their bookshelves, and add to your reading challenges!

I’m disappointed in myself for not being able to read the clues – I was so immersed in the novel, and the development of both narratives that I wasn’t paying attention! Oh well, I guess I’ll just re-read it in the future. Oh, and just one more thing before I continue my rave – I’m a little disappointed that there wasn’t enough art involved with her verses – in other books she’s had a more artistic representation with regards to the aesthetic of her poetry. This is the main reason why I fell in love with her books to being with, but unfortunately it just wasn’t the case here. Although it was a little let-down, the book is still worth a read, I still loved it just as much as other books by Ellen Hopkins.

Ariel is such an amazing character. She has put up with so much, and we see her journey and her struggles to figure out who she really is, and it’s just so beautiful. I love the way Ellen Hopkins takes her time with each character, and she develops them extremely well.

“The You I’ve Never Known” took me on such an emotional roller coaster – the upsets, heartbreaks, and danger was just too much to handle sometimes. Although I don’t necessarily think this is a book everyone will love, I do feel that some awareness needs to be brought forward about the world issues that are explored in this book.

First issue – LGBTQ rights. The underlying issue here is living with stereotypes, and how much of an impact that your family has on you. I think Ellen’s approach to this topic is well-written in “The You I’ve Never Known,” but I do think she could’ve taken just a little more time developing it more. But then again, Ariel isn’t a truly developed character the entire novel, so maybe this is intentional (sorry guys, the english major in me just totally took over there for a second).

Ok, here’s the kicker with the second issue – Ellen Hopkins was clearly inspired by her own life story, and the horrible situation that she found herself in with her own child. Her daughter was taken from her, and it took about 3 years to find the girl. I personally had no idea that she went through this, and when I read this at the ending I was just completely heart broken, because you obviously can’t help but think that this must have been Ellen’s biggest fear – never seeing her daughter again. UGH THE FEELS.

Final Grade:

Personal Opinion: 4.5/5. The personal attachment I’m sure Ellen Hopkins has for this book is just phenomenal. I truly commend her for being emotionally strong enough to write about a subject matter that hits close to home for her, and many others. It’s elements like this that make the book that much better, and that much more important for it to be shared all over the world.

Technical Opinion: 5/5. Accessible (a.k.a. it does not take a verse genius to understand this!).  Although it’s not poetical, it does have a certain je ne said quoi that makes me read it like a poem.


Website (I’ll leave it up to you to choose the Adult site or the Young Adult site)




So it’s been about a month since “The You I’ve Never Known” was released. I’m sure a lot of you have read it by now, so I’m dying to know…WHAT DID YOU THINK!? Let me know in the comments below!


3 thoughts on “Book Review: “The You I’ve Never Known” by Ellen Hopkins

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