My Thoughts On: Triangles by Ellen Hopkins

Posted November 15, 2011 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 11 Comments

Triangles by Ellen Hopkins
Published by Atria
Publish Date:  October 25, 2011

My Source:  Library

Triangles by Ellen Hopkins

In this emotionally powerful novel, three women face the age-old midlife question: If I’m halfway to death, is this all I’ve got to show for it? Holly, filled with regret for being a stay-at-home mom, sheds sixty pounds and loses herself in the world of extramarital sex. Andrea, a single mom and avowed celibate, watches her friend Holly’s meltdown with a mixture of concern and contempt. Holly is throwing away what Andrea has spent her whole life searching for—a committed relationship with a decent guy. So what if Andrea picks up Holly’s castaway husband? Then there’s Marissa. She has more than her fair share of challenges—a gay teenage son, a terminally ill daughter, and a husband who buries himself in his work rather than face the facts. As one woman’s marriage unravels, another one’s rekindles. As one woman’s family comes apart at the seams, another’s is reconfigured into something bigger and better. In this story of connections and disconnections, one woman’s up is another one’s down, and all three of them will learn the meaning of friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness before it is through.  -(summary excerpt from

My Thoughts:  I spent one day last week reading Ellen Hopkins:  I read Crank in the early part of the day and Triangles in the second half of the day. This was my first experience with this author and I was completely blown away. These two books were very different, yet wonderfully similar, and I fell even deeper in love with the verse style of writing than I was before. 
Triangles is an absolutely brilliantly written book – and so very beautiful. Each word written in these verses is truly gut-wrenching – but that is part of the beauty of this book…because it is stuff that happens in everyday life. This book is a different kind of tough than what we witness in Hopkins’ other books like Crank
Triangles is written for an entirely different demographic. The “tough stuff” found here is different from what is contained in Hopkins’ YA titles because it comes primarily from a different walk or stage of life. For example, the main characters in this book are probably thirtysomething or maybe a tiny bit older and married with older children. While I cannot relate to each of these characters entirely, I can simply because of my place in life – my age, my career, motherhood, things like that – and there are certain parts of me written into each of the three main characters. For this reason – because I saw myself a little bit in all of them – I felt like I too was a little bit enveloped in these pages, and I loved it. 
Let’s talk a little bit about these three women:
1. Holly. Hot, athletic, and financially stable. She has a husband that is crazy about her and still finds her wildly attractive. The only problem is, well, she is way less than enchanted by him…which is sad because he is what most women would consider a “catch.” Holly isn’t happy but learns to find happiness in running (which fuels her desire for the attention of other men by way of keeping her ‘attractive’) and writing (which gives her an excuse to get out of the house and have liaisons with other people). I think that some readers will have a tendency to want to be like Holly and some readers will have a tendency to love to hate Holly. 
2. Andrea. Poor, lonely Andrea.  Holly’s best friend. Single mother to a confused adolescent daughter. Andrea has had bad luck with men and feels less cool than her ex-husband’s new girlfriend – not to mention she has no idea what Holly is up to with all of the flirting and wearing those ridiculous short skirts and revealing tops. Andrea ends up having a couple of dates with some really great guys, but these really don’t amount to anything substantial. Really she just doesn’t understand why Holly doesn’t appreciate the man she has at home. I mean, he’s really wonderful and good-looking and a great provider and…well, truthfully, if she were being honest with herself, Andrea has always had a crush on Holly’s husband…and if Holly won’t pay him any attention, why can’t Andrea?
3. Marissa. Mother to a gay son and a terminally ill young daughter. Wife to an absentee husband a man who is having an affair who drinks way too much. Marissa is constantly the bridge between her husband and son as her husband doesn’t approve of the son’s lifestyle. All of this turmoil and chaos in the home is exhausting and lonely. Marissa could use some help, but her husband avoids responsibility at home and her sister, Andrea, never comes over out of guilt (that her own child is healthy) and because she just never knows what to say. In years of keeping up with a special-needs child, Marissa has totally lost herself, lost her husband, and nearly lost her mind. Marissa absolutely breaks my heart from the beginning, but when she finds out about her husbands affair and then discovers a bottle of HIV medication in her son’s bedroom, I became broken for Marissa. Sometimes, though, the ones that I think are the most hopeless are the ones that give me the most hope.   
Holly, Andrea, and Marissa have lives that are interconnected in several different ways. They all have huge, monumental problems, and they all make poor choices. Their decisions affect each other, and as I read and watched what happened, I turned the pages faster and faster and FASTER. As a result of the craziness that is LIFE, some good things happened and some not-so-good things happened. In the end, I was happy about some stuff, I was sad about some stuff, and I felt – about some stuff – like life was just moving on, running its course… 
…and this is the absolute beauty of this book. I am amazed by it. Hopkins’ verse structure of it made for simple, effective language. There is no extra, lofty verbage, no fluff-and-puff. I was told exactly what I needed to know to move and pace the story perfectly. In addition, Holly, Andrea, and Marissa are incredibly well-developed and fleshed out – perhaps some of the best characterizations I can remember reading in a really long time. The entire supporting cast is also superbly written. I love all of these things about this book so much. 
I cannot express to you enough that I feel like this story was written for people like me, but I think it will have broader appeal. This is contemporary story adult fiction, indeed, and I think there is potential for all women/mature young adults to enjoy it. But I do think it is specific to a more mature audience. In particular, I think it would speak to a married audience or an audience with experience in relationships, or perhaps those who are parents. There are some scenes that are not at all appropriate for younger readers, so I would strongly caution readers to know their own maturity and/or comfort level.  
I enjoyed this book immensely, mostly because it is so true to life. We ALL have been a little of one or more of these characters at one time or another – or we know one or more people like them. Triangles is SO true to life and I highly recommend it to an age-appropriate audience. 


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


11 responses to “My Thoughts On: Triangles by Ellen Hopkins

  1. I haven't had a chance to read any books by Ellen yet. I really like books written in verse though. I have to say I was a little hesitant about this one because of the subject matter. As a thirty-something, mother and wife I like to read to escape the "tough" stuff but after reading your review I may have to give this one a try. You haven't let me down yet!

  2. I've never done an Ellen Hopkins book. My students love her YA and when I saw the adult title come out I thought "Now's the time" Feel like this is one we'll need to chat about when I'm done!

  3. Umm, this review is completely and totally brilliant Asheley. Like, seriously. BRILLIANT. I mean, I just. Like, whoa. I had planned to read it partly b/c EH is amazing & because of some other prodding but wow. I want to read it NOW. Curse these other deadlines and obligations. ;P

    But DUDE. PHENOMENAL review girl. Absolutely AMAZING

  4. There are so many interesting themes in this book, primarily sex, marriage and love, but also betrayal, jealousy and friendship amongst others. I would recommend this book for those who like women's liturature or who are looking for something different or who wants to try reading a novel written in poetry.

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