Rumble – Ellen Hopkins
Final Thoughts: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
When I added this book to my TBR, I had been thinking that it was one of the very few Ellen Hopkins books sitting on my shelf that I had met read. Lo and behold, as I was reading, I started making plot predications that consistently came true. Finally I asked myself, “have I read this before?” I sure have!
Hopkins is a master of telling stories of marginalized youth, and this edition is no different. Rumble tells the story of Matthew, a young man who’s brother committed suicide, who’s parents are divorcing, and who’s girlfriend’s devoutly religious outlook on life doesn’t quite pair up to his own atheistic views.
I remember hearing that Ellen Hopkins was writing a book about faith from the view of an atheist, and as an agnostic person myself, I was excited and totally nervous to see how she would handle it.
Matthew is bitter and cynical and angry. He loved his brother dearly, and after being bullied for being gay, his suicide sent Matt reeling. Matt tries really hard to support his uber-religious girlfriend, but after he learns that her friend group was responsible for attacking his brother, she is past forgiveness. As she gets close with her hunky youth pastor, he finds comfort in the arms of a more understanding girlfriend, and on the shooting range owned by his uncle. As Ellen Hopkin’s books are prone to do, the book erupts into a climax of wrong-place, wrong-time consequences, and Matt is forced to learn a little bit about forgiveness and moving on.
Hopkins has a flair for the dramatic, and while it definitely makes for a captivating YA book, the gimmick is becoming a little bit overkill. Matthew’s climax and epiphany is forced into being by a completely random event (which I shan’t spoil here). It’s not like his decisions led to this climax; it could’ve happened to anyone. And the randomness of said event isn’t a testament to some higher being in the sky; Hopkins really only uses it as a catalyst for the ending of the book.
Also, I am tired of shooting ranges in the desert. I get it: write what you know, but seriously, it’s like her characters are all living out their conflicts in the same Sims-esque neighborhood.
Those qualms being said, the book is full of enjoyable tension, and the free-prose style makes it a quick read and full of interesting poetry. I’d argue that this book is way less about faith and more about forgiveness, which is an important lesson nonetheless. Hopkins’ characters are often put through the ringer, so at the very least, I’m ultimately happy if Matthew’s happy.