Rumble – Book Recommendation and Giveaway

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rumbleTitle: Rumble

Written by: Ellen Hopkins

Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books, Sept. 2014

Ages: 14+

Novel in verse

Themes: bullying, gay teens, faith, religion, forgiveness, hypocrisy, ptsd, suicide, gun management

Reviewed from an ARC. All opinions are my own.

Opening Lines:

Between the gray of consciousness                                                                                      and the obsidian where dreams                                                                                            ebb and flow, there is a wishbone                                                                                window. And trapped in its glass,                                                                                           a single silver shard of enlightenment.


Matt(hew) Turner lives in self-imposed faith vacuum and can you blame him? No wonder his girlfriend thinks he’s changed, become unpredictable since his younger brother’s middle grade classmates bullied him into suicide. His parents marriage, built on a faulty foundation, is disintegrating and he’s the last to discover his dad has been sleeping with his old pre-wife girlfriend. Tension escalates as he tries to pin blame on the homophobia and homophobes (including his best friend, his Dad and the god squad) that led to Luke’s death and his own guilt at being at his girlfriend’s the night Luke really needed him. It doesn’t help that his bible-believing girlfriend’s faith in the unquestionable integrity of the word of God (and of her new youth pastor) is having a revival.

He writes a class essay, full of anger and attack, which understandably alarms his teachers and counselors. This essay is trickled with perfect timing to the reader through the story, adding pertinent back story and Matt’s gutsy belief system or ant-belief system.

It takes a horrific event toward the end of the book to catapult Matt into a soul-searching darkness, where his present condition and his disbelief are blown apart.

Why I like this book:

I have read all Ellen Hopkin’s young adult novels, and I have to say this has become my new favorite of her work. There are several reasons I have become a fan of this author over the years. She introduced me to poetic prose/novels in verse and her finesse and word/space playl in this form takes my breath away. She is the most quotable YA author I know. So many lines leap off the page at me. It is also the perfect word vehicle for the gritty content of her novels. Also having written about diversity on my blog a month ago, I have to do a shout-out here for an author who has teens of all sorts in her novels and never shys away from topics that she knows will cause the censorship-devotees to take to their keyboards. I love that one smaller theme in this book is indeed YA book censorship, which of course underlines one of the larger themes of acceptance of the gay lifestyle.

I think not since Kristina in Crank, has Hopkins used a single point of view and I applaud its choice here. The verse allows for more inner dialogue than we would normally get in prose and we are welcomed deeper and deeper into Matt’s psyche and struggles. He is a compelling, believable, sharp and tortured protagonist with the maturity to call bullshit and stand up against the hypocrisy he sees around him (even eventually in his own life).

The novel wrestles with some really dark and intense subject matter, the reality for many teens…death, suicide, bullying, having a gay son/brother/classmate, religious intolerance, atheism, family break-up, alcoholism, prescription meds, ptsd etc. Part of Matt’s strength comes from his coherent and thought-through position on atheism, which I think will be an interesting challenge to many as it is a less common stance among teens. I grieved over Luke’s genuine question about the present, ‘It get’s better’ campaign (which I love), begging to know how to cope with the ‘now’ when it is not yet better. The book also tackles the less overt guilt of bystanders to bullying.

There are so many deep themes in this novel, I feel it warrants a second read soon.
Ellen Hopkins includes a rich cast of characters, which adds a mixture of intensity and vulnerability to the story line. Some I found pretty loath-able, like Matt’s girlfriend, Hayden, and others I was thankful for because they added some support to Matt, like his veteran uncle, and his high school teacher, Mr. Wells. Each character has a set of beliefs/values that are thoroughly credible for that character. The depth of pain a child/teen must feel when their sexuality is outed prematurely and then mocked is one we have to look at in our society and Hopkins packs no punches with the anguish that led to Luke’s suicide or the post-suicide trauma that Matt is going through. Ellen Hopkins tackles gritty issues with a level of literary expertise that I long to master.

Giveaway: I am fortunate to have a second ARC in possession, which I would love to send to one of my North American blog-readers. To be included in the draw, please leave a comment and tell me what the biggest bullying issue for you was in school, or what is right now for your kids, by midnight EST, Sunday October 5th. I will announce the winner on the blog on Monday 6th October.

P.S. Blog-followers, I am sorry to announce that I have had to reintroduce a captcha to the comments as Askimet is no longer filtering all spam.

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40 Responses to Rumble – Book Recommendation and Giveaway

  1. Wow, this sounds like realistic fiction at its best. Your enthusiasm for RUMBLE leaps from your review. I love that Ellen Hopkins isn’t afraid to tackle such tough topics and many themes. I agree with you –since there is so much depth to the emotion in the book, poetic prose is the perfect medium. What an important read for all teens! Excellent review, Joanna.
    My daughter was bullied throughout her school years because she wore hearing aids. Riding the school bus was horrible experience for her. In middle school/high school she stopped wearing her aids.

    • Joanna says:

      Thanks, Pat. It is an emotional but very fluid read, that would touch the hearts of many teens. School bullying can leave such permanent scars. I will add you into the draw, Pat.

  2. Brittney Krogh says:

    In school, being bullied was a chronic issue. Going to a private school in a small town, everyone knew everyone, and my family wasn’t one of the founding families. We.weren’t rich, and I lived with a single mother. I was constantly ridiculed for always raising my hand in class, and not knowing what happened on tv that week. My mom gave us the option of reading or being outside, which I’m Greatful for now. I was bullied because of my weight, my name(surname) , just about everything you could imagine. As I got older, it only got worse.. It killed my self esteem, made me doubt my own abilities. Eventually it got to the point where I dropped out of high school. Now at 21, I just completed school.

    • Joanna says:

      Brittney, good for you hanging in there and completing school, that takes guts! It’s horrendous how just not being part of the in-crowd or in-families can result in such bullying. Very happy to add you to the draw for RUMBLE and thanks for sharing. I wish you all the best as you seek out how best to use your unique gifts and talents in this world!

  3. My 18 year old has been bullied for years, because he is on the Autism spectrum. This bullying not only comes from the kids, but also some of the teachers he’s had over the years. The resulting bullying has made him agoraphobic. Every time he tries to break his phobia, because he realizes it’s not healthy, and well, a young adult should be out and about and living life, he ends up in a huge panic attack. I tried everything to stop it, to get him help. I was a voice in the desert.

    • Joanna says:

      Casondra, I was also bullied by teachers in my infant school. Child bullies are not acceptable but adults bullying children is especially devastating and heartbreaking to me. I wish you and your son courage and strength to stand up for his rights, health, well-being and future! Books like RUMBLE and other YA like this are so needed to help in this fight. Thank you for commenting and I am adding you to the draw.

  4. Hillary says:

    In middle school I had a run in with a bunch of girls. One in particular made going to school very hard for me. I remember one event when I was at my locker (for what would become the last time.) and then waking up at home. I went to school the next day unable to go to my locker because everyone was looking at a large dent in it.

    Through talking with the nurse, in school police, and my mom I have since peiced together what happened. While I was getting my books my bully thought it would be fun to slam my head against the locker. I blacked out and was sent home. The school didn’t do much before this happed but luckily after I was able to file a restraining order which kept her at a safe distance.

    • Joanna says:

      Wow, Hillary, you have been up against some real pieces of work, I am so sorry you had to experience this before significant action was taken! We so need books like RUMBLE to keep getting the word out that the level of bullying that you endured really does still keep happening in schools and it is not acceptable! I’m adding your name to the draw.

  5. crystal says:

    My biggest bullying was in middle school when a girl kept calling me anorexic and spreading it really pushing the issue. .. I wanst I have a diease that has weight gain as an issue

    • Joanna says:

      Crystal, I hear you. I did have anorexia, but the bullying about it didn’t help!! Thanks for sharing and I will add your name to the draw.

  6. Christy Cashin says:

    I’m excited to hear that the other Hopkin’s books are just as good, if not better, than the Crank series. Looking forward to reading this one!
    As a middle-schooler I was bullied about my weight, then a size 16. I received so much bullying that I had negative thoughts about hurting myself, but instead decided to virtually starve myself for about a year. I luckily never had health issues from my unhealthy eating habits, but lost weight only to find that the problems never really went away. In high school the bullying seemed to disappear, but my insecurities were so high that it felt like everyone was always starring or laughing at me. To this day, now 33, I still have some of those insecurities. I’ve toughened up on the outside, to block some of them out, but they still find their way to the surface now and again. If I had a chance to relive my middle school days, I’m not sure I would change much. Through those experiences I have learned a lot about humanity and have learned how to quickly ‘read’ people for their true intentions. I now have a 10 year old daughter who I do hope will not suffer as much bullying as I, but I also hope that I can help her through any issues that may arise. My parents never talked to me about the issues I was having, hopefully the open communication that we have in our household will help her make a smoother transition through these tender years.

    • Joanna says:

      Your daughter is lucky to have such a self-aware and caring mom, Christy. It does sound like you were able to use those painful middle-school times to learn about humanity and your own strength. Thanks for sharing and I will add you to the random draw!

  7. baylie says:

    I think the biggest bullying problem I have ever faced is in regards to my 5 week old son, Noah. He was born with a cleft lip and will need to have a surgery for it in about 3-4 months. The way people look at him like he’s broken or look at me with pity in there eyes completely breaks my heart that all they see in my happy beautiful healthy baby is a little flaw. You know the world is a truly cruel place when you’re afraid for your newborn to be made fun of. Bullying needs to stop. No one should ever not feel not good enough because someone else has raised expectations of what they consider to be “standard”. Everyone is beautiful.

    • Joanna says:

      Baylie, yes indeed bullying needs to stop. Your beautiful little baby does not need judgmental looks and nor do you! This is as you say a tiny flaw that will be rectified with surgery, but he is already beautiful! Thanks for sharing and I will add your name to the draw!

  8. I distinctly remember going to a middle school orientation in 5th grade, but I was from out of the district, so I had to go with a completely new 5th grade class. We were promised food and never got it, but I was bullied in the locker room after our swim test. The girls hid my shoes and socks, and I only ended up finding one sock. I was late to get back with the group and this teacher yelled at me, then forgot to bring me back up to the office. I was stuck on the 3rd floor, so small, not knowing where to go at all, yet they kept calling my name at the office. Finally I just sat against a wall and cried until a nice 7th grader found me and brought me to the office. I did not want to go to that middle school of course, but it’s where I had to go. I never really got over feeling left out from that first day.

    • Joanna says:

      This first experience at middle school so sucked, Kathy. It is crazy how mean girls can be to someone new! 🙁 Thanks for sharing and am adding you to the draw!

  9. Lauren Fox says:

    I am 23 years old and I have been fortunate enough to stumble across this author and her books since I was a teen. I have struggled with depression ptsd drug addiction my mothers suicide and bullying in school. I am a stronger person today by reaching out to others in need. These books have all touched my heart and all though I cannot purchase the book myself I am anxiously waiting until I find it in a Library!

    • Joanna says:

      Lauren, so glad that books like Ellen’s have helped you along the way. Adding you to the draw. I so agree that reaching out to others is a significant healing step for us all!

  10. Emily says:

    I was fortunate to attend a private school, but was out casted because I was “weird”. I was told I was weird when I was just being funny. Or because I was reading fantasy books. I was bullied by the ‘bible teacher’ because of what I wore(Idont even know why- I followed the strict dress code). At the time my family shopped at cheaper stores because tuition was expensive (I also have 3 siblings). I found solace and friends in my books, and over 10 years later they are still a huge part of my life- they helped me cope and relate.

    • Joanna says:

      Emily, like you I found huge solace and comfort in books when I was growing up and going through stuff! Isn’t it nuts that just being a little different (clothes, beliefs) can set off such nasty bullying?!! Adding you to the draw and thanks for sharing.

  11. Ashley says:

    In public school I was bullied constantly for being chubby. People would call me all kinds of names (fat, tubby, lard ass, fatty, stinky,etc)

  12. Jennifer says:

    Sounds like Ellen, all right. I was pretty lucky considering, in school, with fairly rare bullying events more scattered than anything, but there were a few rougher patches; in middle school there was one particular girl (and her snaky sidekick a lot of the time) in 6th grade who crossed the line with ugly comments, begun after I had a horrific screw-up freeze in a kickball game that’s still awful to remember, and helped put me back in a shell it took me years to stretch out of due to my teammate’s brief but scalding anger. Although we both learned to live with each other when our paths crossed and I enjoy knowing that I snapped a response or ignored when necessary in a pretty balanced manner, the biggest relief actually came when an utterly sweet (and fiery) 8th grade girl I’d never met overheard the ugliest comments yet and basically scared the girl straight, which I found out later It was her caring concern that affected me more than any relief from confrontations. Thank God for angels, right? 🙂

  13. Joanna says:

    Jennifer, I am so glad you shared a really positive moment too. What a treasure that 8th grader was! Yes, what an angel! Adding your name to the draw.

  14. Brittani Z. says:

    My biggest bullying issue in school was my weight. From 1st grade until 7th grade (when I finally left public school and became homeschooled) I was bullied by the same group of girls because I am overweight. It wasn’t a pleasant experience and has effected me psychologically to this day. I deal with severe social anxiety and self-image issues.

    • Joanna says:

      Brittani, it makes me very sad to think you endured so many years of cruel bullying from peers at school. I do hope that books like RUMBLE and good friends and the love and respect you deserve will slowly heal the anxiety and image issues you still have. I am putting your name into the draw. Thank you for sharing!

  15. Sally Putrus says:

    My biggest problem with bullying was being bullied for being a little bit more hairier than other girls, and fatter. I have high hormone levels and I entered puberty earlier than normal so I developed a little early and my hormones are messed up and everywhere so I sweat a lot too. It always got mocked for it and it was worse cause just being fat gets you made fun off, so being hairy made it worse.

    • Joanna says:

      Sally, I also hit puberty fairly young at ten and found this and some excessively active sweat glands resulted in some epic teasing so I do understand where you are coming from. Thanks for sharing and I’m adding your name to the draw.

  16. Tara Smith says:

    I never talk about it, but all 3 years of middle school were awful. Kids are brutal at that age.. I was called many names, like ugly and garbage and it was just awful. It was a tough time, but luckily in 9th grade I discovered my love for reading, with an Ellen Hopkins book, Burned 🙂 now any time I feel down, I just read. It helps a lot 🙂

  17. This sounds good, but maybe a bit too old for me. I should recommend this to our library.

  18. Wow, Joanna. This books sounds powerful and intense. I’d really like to read it. I can’t think of a bullying episode to relate (I’m fortunate that one doesn’t leap to mind) so I will find a copy of this book at the library 🙂 Thanks for sharing both the book and your response or I mightn’t have known to look for it!

  19. Ashley says:

    I’ve read a couple oh books, and I absolutely loved them. She has a way words. I can’t really think of an occasion where I was bullied, but I was that shy kid who stayed out of people’s way, and tried to go unnoticed for fear of being made fun of.

    • Joanna says:

      Ashley, not feeling in a safe place to be truly you indicates an environment of bullying in a way. I’ll add your name to the draw. 🙂

  20. Ashley Broberg says:

    I was bullied in school for being fat but the only reason I was gaining weight was because of my diabetes and gaining scar tissue from shots. But no one knew that. It was awful. I started cutting and everything. This book tells people how bullying can drive people yo awful things.

  21. Pingback: Rumble Giveaway Winner | Miss Marple's Musings

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