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After reading Crank and loving it and then having such a positive
response to it from my students, I was excited to spot a new book from
the same author.  Burned is also a very powerful novel in verse from
Ellen Hopkins.  Filled with the same heartfelt poetry found in Crank,
this book also evokes similar gut-wrenching emotions.  But I have some
VERY serious reservations about it.  There is a strong suicide theme --
the book begins and ends with the main character contemplating suicide.
The young girl falls into a sexual relationship much too quickly.  But
these events were not the only concern - I am more concerned with the
distinct condemnation of the LDS (Mormon) Church.  


Pattyn (the main character & narrator) is 16 and the oldest in a family
of nine living in poverty. Her major role is to raise the younger
children, the mother's sole purpose is bearing children, and the father
consistently beats the mother and eventually the older children. This is
more than just a teenager questioning the religion of her parents or
just an example of one family taking their church's teachings to the
extreme. When Pattyn goes to others within the church hierarchy to
report the abuse, she is accused of lying and the bishop defends the
father.  This scenario is repeated so often that the reader is left with
the impression that these practices are not only ignored by the church,
but systematically encouraged.  "Pattyn's" poetry repeats again and
again what she feels is wrong about the LDS church's teachings, painting
the entire church and its members with a very wide brush.


I certainly do not have issues with coming of age novels that question
faith and values, since that is all part of growing up.  We have all
been through that.  But I do have a problem with authors who disguise
their opinions behind fiction, and that's what this looks like to me.
She repeatedly demeans the church's teachings concerning bringing
children into the world, entering the celestial kingdom, the practice of
testimony at weekly services, and family life within the LDS.  I found
this pretty offensive.


By the way, just so you know this is not a personal -- I'm not a member
of the LDS church, and in fact admit to some personal skepticism
concerning many of their teachings.  I just have a problem with authors
who seem to attack others' beliefs.  I think (hope!) I would feel this
way if the church depicted were Catholic, Protestant, Jewish or Muslim.


I would love to hear from others who have read this book.  Do you think
it's appropriate for a high school library?  Do you share my
reservations?  Or am I making too big of a deal out of it?  Thanks for
your input.


Diane Ferbrache


Lindbergh High School

16426 128th Ave. SE

Renton, WA   98058



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