“Tilt” by Ellen Hopkins
“Tilt” is a YA free verse narrative that follows the story of three interconnected teens: Mikayla, Shane, and Harley. Mikayla’s story follows her experience with first love and the effects teenage pregnancy has on her relationships. Shane’s story follows his relationship with his parents as a gay teen whose sister is suffering from a fatal condition. Harley’s story follows her journey to find her place as she tries to attract the attention of the boy she likes. All three of their tales are interwoven together and cross in interesting ways.
I liked the style of this book. It’s a little over 600 pages of free-verse poetry. The lyricality of the poems make this rather thick novel a breeze and delivers some pretty powerful punches.
I’m going give each character their own rating.
Starting with Mikayla, I’m giving a solid 4 out of 5. I thought her pregnancy struggle was very true to reality; there was nothing cut and dry about it; she struggled with her decisions and the consequences of her actions throughout, and there wasn’t any wrap-it-in-a-bow ending. I docked a star simply because some of the adult reactions and attitudes seemed a little off to me, which I will explain later.
Shane gets a straight 5 out of 5. I kind of really loved that he was a gay character but his story didn’t revolve around just that fact. Sure, it’s about his romantic relationship on some level, but that was a sideline to the bigger family issues centering around his parents’ fishing line strength marriage and the fact that his four year old sister was dying. If you get this book for any reason, pay attention to his story.
Harley gets a 3.5 out of 5. I connected with Harley the most of the three. Her desire to alter herself in order to appeal to the boy she liked was kind of like a narrative representation of my younger years. I was definitely a reflection of the boys I dated at the 14-15 year old stage. That said, she crossed a lot of lines I never would’ve crossed and gave very little thought to the obvious red flags that I thought she should’ve been bothered by.
Outside the character ratings, I give the book as a whole a 3 out of 5. There were a lot of characters, and it took me a minute to orient them and myself within their world. And, I always felt like I was missing some puzzle pieces where the adults were concerned, like I didn’t understand the motivation to their actions. This made a lot more sense when I found out that Tilt is a companion novel to Triangles that follows the adults in this novel. Although, it can and does stand on its own.