Fallout by Ellen Hopkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
From Goodreads: Hunter, Autumn, and Summer—three of Kristina Snow’s five children—live in different homes, with different guardians and different last names. They share only a predisposition for addiction and a host of troubled feelings toward the mother who barely knows them, a mother who has been riding with the monster, crank, for twenty years.
Hunter is nineteen, angry, getting by in college with a job at a radio station, a girlfriend he loves in the only way he knows how, and the occasional party. He's struggling to understand why his mother left him, when he unexpectedly meets his rapist father, and things get even more complicated. Autumn lives with her single aunt and alcoholic grandfather. When her aunt gets married, and the only family she’s ever known crumbles, Autumn’s compulsive habits lead her to drink. And the consequences of her decisions suggest that there’s more of Kristina in her than she’d like to believe. Summer doesn’t know about Hunter, Autumn, or their two youngest brothers, Donald and David. To her, family is only abuse at the hands of her father’s girlfriends and a slew of foster parents. Doubt and loneliness overwhelm her, and she, too, teeters on the edge of her mother’s notorious legacy. As each searches for real love and true family, they find themselves pulled toward the one person who links them together—Kristina, Bree, mother, addict. But it is in each other, and in themselves, that they find the trust, the courage, the hope to break the cycle.
Told in three voices and punctuated by news articles chronicling the family’s story, FALLOUT is the stunning conclusion to the trilogy begun by CRANK and GLASS, and a testament to the harsh reality that addiction is never just one person’s problem.
My Take: I decided to approach this book completely backward. I knew previous books existed but I didn't read them or look up their summaries. I also chose to not read the inside cover. I just opened the book and began to read, assuming Hopkins had written a compilations of poetry. Oh, so wrong! Although my approach worked very well for me and the surprise I experienced as I discovered the characters in this book. I enjoyed putting the puzzle pieces together and finally understanding that Hunter, Summer, and Autumn were Kristina's children.
Any review will slaughter the uniqueness of the style. It is something to be experienced on many levels. Not only do the words tell a story in a chronological manner, the prose is organized to reflect the emotion or message. For instance, Summer struggled with panic attacks and OCD. When chaos reigned, the arrangement of the words reflected that. Hunter talks about his girlfriend and the page is titled, "The Perfect Girl." The organization of words was curvy, like a woman would be. Subtle but hammering the message home on a different level.
The book is told in three different voices - each of Kristina's oldest children. Hunter, who experiences trouble with intimacy. He has a good home life, an awesome girlfriend, people who love him yet he can not reach commitment which would provide true intimacy for him. A thoroughly enjoyable character.
Summer is in foster care and intimates sexual abuse from those she trusted. She feels alone but possesses street smarts to help her survive. Interesting addition when her boyfriend, Kyle, makes sacrifices for her. I really thought he was going to be a complete jerk but I ended respecting him.
Autumn has been carefully protected by her paternal grandfather and aunt from her biological parents. She craves order and connection. She suffers from panic attacks and has no idea she has such a large family in the world.
Naturally, the characters' worlds collide by the end. Riveting from page one right to the last page. The glue that holds all of these people together is Kristina, their biological mother. Although Hunter's outburst is much more adept as he connects all of the people sitting at the table, Kristina is the woman who has caused every one of them pain to the core. But it's not her fault, or so she claims. Still completely self-absorbed, self destructing, leaving a wake of carnage behind her and completely unaware of it.
Be advised this is a gritty read. Sex is abundant. Drug use proliferates the story. It is not glamorized yet there is a lack of preaching the evils of drug use. On the other hand, the impact on relationships, children, parents, brothers and sisters is illustrated by the journey the reader takes.
*I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I experienced no pressure, obligation, or duress to provide a positive review. That's all I have to say about that.