The Three Voices of Impulse by Ellen Hopkins: Vanessa, Tony, and Conner
Impulse by Ellen Hopkins: A Novel That Explores Mental Health and Suicide Among Teenagers
Have you ever felt so hopeless that you wanted to end your life? Have you ever struggled with mental health issues that made you feel alone and misunderstood? Have you ever wondered what goes on in the minds of people who attempt suicide?
impulse by ellen hopkins
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you might be interested in reading Impulse by Ellen Hopkins, a novel that explores the lives of three teenagers who end up in a psychiatric hospital after trying to kill themselves. In this article, I will tell you what Impulse is about, why it is important, and how it portrays mental health and suicide among teenagers.
What is Impulse by Ellen Hopkins about?
Impulse by Ellen Hopkins is a young adult novel that was published in 2007. It tells the story of three teenagers who meet at Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital in Nevada, after they each attempt suicide for different reasons. The novel follows their journey as they try to cope with their past traumas, their present challenges, and their uncertain futures.
Why is Impulse by Ellen Hopkins important?
Impulse by Ellen Hopkins is important because it tackles a serious and sensitive topic that affects many people, especially young people. According to the World Health Organization, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds globally. Moreover, mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are common among adolescents and can increase the risk of suicide. Therefore, Impulse by Ellen Hopkins can help raise awareness and understanding about these issues, as well as provide hope and support for those who are suffering or know someone who is.
How does Impulse by Ellen Hopkins portray mental health and suicide?
Impulse by Ellen Hopkins portrays mental health and suicide in a realistic and honest way. It does not sugarcoat or glamorize the struggles of the characters, nor does it offer easy solutions or happy endings. Instead, it shows the complexity and diversity of their experiences, the factors that contribute to their problems, and the challenges they face in their recovery. It also shows the importance of seeking professional help, finding supportive friends, and discovering one's own strengths and passions.
The main characters of Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
The novel is narrated by three main characters: Vanessa, Tony, and Conner. Each of them has a unique background, personality, and reason for attempting suicide. Here is a brief introduction of each of them:
Vanessa: A bipolar girl who cuts herself and overdoses on pills
Vanessa is a 16-year-old girl who suffers from bipolar disorder, a condition that causes her to experience extreme mood swings from mania to depression. She also has a history of self-harm, as she cuts herself to cope with her emotional pain. She lives with her mother, who is also bipolar and suicidal, and her stepfather, who is abusive and neglectful. She feels unloved and unwanted by her family, and has no friends at school. She attempts suicide by overdosing on pills after a manic episode.
Tony: A gay boy who was abused by his father and tries to hang himself
Tony is a 17-year-old boy who is gay and proud of it. He grew up in a dysfunctional family, where his father was an alcoholic and a drug addict who sexually abused him when he was younger. He ran away from home when he was 14 and lived on the streets, where he became addicted to drugs and prostitution. He tries to hang himself after his boyfriend dies of AIDS.
Conner: A rich boy who suffers from depression and shoots himself in the chest
Conner is an 18-year-old boy who comes from a wealthy and influential family. He seems to have everything: good looks, intelligence, popularity, and money. However, he feels empty and unhappy inside, as he struggles with depression and low self-esteem. He feels pressured by his parents to be perfect and successful, and has no real friends or hobbies. He shoots himself in the chest after breaking up with his girlfriend.
The themes of Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
The novel explores several themes that are relevant to the topic of mental health and suicide among teenagers. Some of these themes are:
The impact of family and environment on mental health
The novel shows how the family and environment of the characters affect their mental health and well-being. For example, Vanessa's mother's bipolar disorder and stepfather's abuse make her feel insecure and unstable; Tony's father's abuse and abandonment make him feel worthless and hopeless; Conner's parents' expectations and indifference make him feel lonely and depressed. The novel also shows how the characters try to escape or cope with their unfavorable situations, such as by running away, using drugs, or cutting themselves.
The role of therapy and medication in recovery
The novel shows how therapy and medication can help the characters in their recovery process. For example, Vanessa benefits from taking lithium, a mood stabilizer that helps her control her bipolar disorder; Tony benefits from attending group therapy sessions, where he learns to trust and open up to others; Conner benefits from taking antidepressants, which help him overcome his depression. The novel also shows the challenges and limitations of therapy and medication, such as the side effects, the stigma, or the relapses.
The power of friendship and love in healing
The novel shows how friendship and love can help the characters in their healing process. For example, Vanessa finds comfort and support in Tony, who becomes her best friend and later her boyfriend; Tony finds acceptance and affection in Vanessa, who becomes his first true love; Conner finds friendship and fun in Phillip, another patient at Aspen Springs who shares his interests. The novel also shows how friendship and love can be complicated and fragile, such as when jealousy, betrayal, or death threaten to break them apart.
The style and structure of Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
The novel is written in a distinctive style and structure that make it stand out from other novels. Some of these features are:
The use of free verse poetry and multiple perspectives
The novel is written in free verse poetry, which means that it does not follow any fixed rules of rhyme or meter. Instead, it uses line breaks, white space, punctuation, font size, and shape to create rhythm, emphasis, contrast, and meaning. The novel also uses multiple perspectives, which means that it switches between the three main characters' points of view in each chapter. This allows the reader to get inside the minds of each character and understand their thoughts, feelings, motivations, and actions.
The use of imagery and symbolism to convey emotions
The novel uses imagery and symbolism to convey the emotions of the characters. For example, Vanessa uses metaphors of fire ?and ice ️to describe her bipolar disorder; Tony uses images of darkness ?and light ?to describe his despair The use of masks ? and mirrors ? to describe his identity crisis.
The novel also uses imagery and symbolism to foreshadow the events and outcomes of the story. For example, Vanessa's poems often mention blood ? and death ?, which hint at her fate; Tony's poems often mention angels ? and wings ?️, which hint at his transformation; Conner's poems often mention guns ? and bullets ?, which hint at his decision.
The use of cliffhangers and twists to create suspense
The novel uses cliffhangers and twists to create suspense and keep the reader engaged. For example, each chapter ends with a question or a revelation that makes the reader wonder what will happen next; each character's story has a twist that changes their situation or reveals their secrets; the novel's ending has a major twist that shocks the reader and leaves them with mixed emotions.
Summary of the main points
In conclusion, Impulse by Ellen Hopkins is a novel that explores mental health and suicide among teenagers. It tells the story of three teenagers who meet at a psychiatric hospital after trying to kill themselves. It shows the causes and consequences of their problems, as well as the possibilities and challenges of their recovery. It also uses a unique style and structure that make it a captivating and memorable read.
Evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the novel
The novel has many strengths that make it a valuable and powerful work of literature. Some of these strengths are:
It addresses a relevant and important topic that affects many people, especially young people.
It portrays mental health and suicide in a realistic and honest way, without sugarcoating or glamorizing them.
It creates empathy and understanding for the characters and their struggles, as well as hope and support for the readers who might relate to them.
It uses a distinctive style and structure that make it stand out from other novels.
The novel also has some weaknesses that might limit its appeal or impact. Some of these weaknesses are:
It contains graphic and disturbing scenes that might trigger or upset some readers.
It uses language and slang that might be unfamiliar or offensive to some readers.
It has a bleak and tragic tone that might discourage or depress some readers.
It has an ambiguous and open-ended conclusion that might frustrate or confuse some readers.
Recommendation for the readers
I would recommend this novel to readers who are interested in learning more about mental health and suicide among teenagers, who enjoy reading free verse poetry and multiple perspectives, who are not afraid of facing harsh realities and emotions, and who are looking for a novel that will challenge them and make them think. I would not recommend this novel to readers who are sensitive to graphic and disturbing content, who prefer conventional prose and linear narratives, who need positive and uplifting stories, or who want a clear and satisfying resolution.
Here are some frequently asked questions about Impulse by Ellen Hopkins:
Is Impulse by Ellen Hopkins based on a true story?
No, Impulse by Ellen Hopkins is not based on a true story. However, the author has said that she was inspired by her own experiences with mental health issues, as well as by the stories of real people who have attempted suicide or suffered from mental disorders.
Is Impulse by Ellen Hopkins part of a series?
Yes, Impulse by Ellen Hopkins is part of a series called Crank, which consists of six novels that deal with different aspects of addiction, abuse, violence, and mental illness. The other novels in the series are: Crank, Glass, Fallout, Burned, Smoke, and Rumble.
What is the reading level of Impulse by Ellen Hopkins?
The reading level of Impulse by Ellen Hopkins is grade 9 and above, according to the Lexile Framework for Reading. The novel has a Lexile measure of 680L, which means that it is suitable for readers who can comprehend texts with a difficulty level of 680 on a scale of 0 to 2000. However, the novel also contains mature and sensitive content that might not be appropriate for younger or more vulnerable readers.
What are some similar books to Impulse by Ellen Hopkins?
Some similar books to Impulse by Ellen Hopkins are:
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, a novel that tells the story of a girl who commits suicide and leaves behind tapes that explain why she did it.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, a novel that tells the story of a girl who stops speaking after being raped at a party.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, a novel that tells the story of a boy who deals with depression, trauma, and social anxiety.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, a novel that tells the story of two teenagers who bond over their suicidal tendencies and mental health issues.
Where can I buy or borrow Impulse by Ellen Hopkins?
You can buy or borrow Impulse by Ellen Hopkins from various online or offline sources. Some of these sources are:
Amazon: You can buy the paperback, hardcover, Kindle, or audiobook version of the novel from Amazon.com.
Barnes & Noble: You can buy the paperback, hardcover, Nook, or audiobook version of the novel from Barnesandnoble.com.
Audible: You can buy or listen to the audiobook version of the novel from Audible.com.
Goodreads: You can find reviews, ratings, summaries, and recommendations for the novel from Goodreads.com.
Your local library: You can borrow the physical or digital copy of the novel from your local library. You can use Worldcat.org to find the nearest library that has the novel.