Sunday, March 22, 2015

Rumble by Ellen Hopkins


This review was written by: B
Received: Library
Publication Date of Book: August 2014
Pages: 560
Stars: 3.75/5

“Why can’t we just have fun?”  But no one,

and no one answered.  Pretty much 
the story of my life, at least where
 my parents are concerned.  Too caught 
up in their personal tangles of pain,

disappointments, and tomorrows made murky 
by yesterdays.  I’m damn sure never going to 
exist that way.  No sir, it’s all about 
living fearlessly today.
-Rumble by Ellen Hopkins

Matt's hanging on to his sanity by a thread.  Everything's been spiraling out of control, and there's no hint of it stopping.  He has nothing to believe in anymore, not his parents, his younger brother, his friends, or even God.  More often than not, his mother and father are fighting, ignoring each other, or off fuming from a recent yell fest.  Luke, his only brother and sibling, committed suicide from extreme bullying.  His so called friends turned away from or betrayed him when times got rough.  The only person that Matt can rely on is his beautiful girlfriend Hayden.  She's his rock and happy medium.

Matt needs control in his life.  It always seems like nothing is going his way.  People are worried that he's going to blow up at any second.  His anger is overwhelming.  No one knows what he's going to do next.  It's almost impossible to move on (in his situation), and the first step to doing so is forgiveness.  Matt needs to forgive others, but most importantly he needs to forgive himself, but how is this possible?  Spending time with Hayden makes all of his other worries go away.   It's like there are absolutely no problems in the world when they spend time together.  However, this couple could not be more than polar opposites.  Hayden is a strong Christian and a firm believer in her faith.  She's growing closer to God everyday, but Matt just wants to push that part of his life aside.  Her father is a fanatic, condemning many things, including his daughter's relationship with Matt himself.  At any rate, these two individuals seem to make things work, but these days even this part of his life is slipping away.

Luke haunts his thoughts all throughout the day and night.  Thoughts of what Matt could have done differently, said differently, to ensure that his brother was still with him now constantly plague his conscience.  There should have been something, anything, that he could have done to protect him, and it's too late now, though.  There's now nothing he can do to change that...but this does not stop him from bringing it up time and time again.  Suddenly, Matt hears a rumble that will potentially change his life forever.  All that he believed in is brought into questioning.  Will he be able to move on with his life, or will he continue to fall into the darkness?

My thoughts on this book:
This was my first Ellen Hopkins book, and I was sooooooooo ecstatic about it!  I've heard the most amazing things about her writing and her books, and when I saw Rumble sitting on a library shelf in all of its wonderful glory, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to read it.  Right off the bat, I took to her unique style and even fell in love with it.  It's simply beautiful.

Matt was such a broken, guilt ridden, and damaged character.  This, for me, made it impossible not to be drawn to him.  His story was raw and true and heartbreaking and...perfect.  He was brutally honest with his feelings, but he couldn't necessarily bring himself to actually deal with them.  His anger was a strong presence throughout the novel, and this was extremely understandable.  Going through so much, especially as a teenager, is not an easy thing.  Suicide and self-destructive parents all in one book for one boy to deal with is undoubtedly overwhelming.  I wanted him to have a happy ending.  I wanted him to find peace.

Rumble was one of those books where I connected with the protagonist extremely well.  It was one of those situations in which I was upset when he was upset, or happy when he was happy.  The writing was so powerful that it could do this.  Also, even though we did not know about every single character in depth, such as Alexa's parents, I found myself discovering a firm grasp on who they must of been.  Her home life was expertly described so that it felt like I knew every person mentioned.  Of course, this does not necessarily mean that I loved every character.  Hayden was hard to connect with from the beginning, and as the story progressed it only got worse.  She seemed two-faced in a way, always being fickle.  One minute she'd be sweet, and the next thing I know she gets ticked off about something and blows up!  Matt was one of those people who became easily frustrated as well, but I was okay with him.  There was just something about the way that Hayden was portrayed in my mind that made me want to shove her away.

While, I realize that Hopkins usually delves into more darker issues in her works, I was really surprised (in a good way) when I realized just how true this was.  I'm really proud of the author for many of the topics she covers. Rumble dealt with dysfunctional families, insecurities, regret, anger, extreme bullying, relationship issues, religion, and being gay.

The bullying that went on in this book was despicable.  I was sickened to my very core.  Sometimes I think about what the world would like be if everyone could be accepted for who they really are, no matter what they looked like, such as if they were tall or short, skinny or not, light or dark.  I wonder what would happen if people accepted others despite who they loved, whether it is a boy and a girl in love, two boys in love, or even two girls.  I realize that this is obviously not the world we live in today, and it deeply upsets me.  People can be vicious, ruthful, degrading, and spiteful...and Hopkins wasn't afraid to show that.  The fact that someone committed suicide because they were under attack so often, felt unloved, and unappreciated because of it...I just can't fathom what would lead another person to be so horrible to another.  Bulling has practically become a pandemic.  I hate how Luke felt that death was the only way out.  People called him weak for killing himself, and I felt that they had no desire to acknowledge the fact that it was other people who made him feel the way he did.  They just blamed him and solely him.

Fragile as it was.  He despised
hiding behind the pretense,
but he hated more:

“Upsetting” Dad.
Worrying Mom.
Embarrassing me.
Losing his friends
and me losing mine.

All because of who he was.
How he was born. Who
he was programmed genetically
to love.  Although, tell
that to Dad, he’d claim
you were insane, that no
gene of his could possibly
be responsible for gayness.

If you're worried that this book may contain too much religion in it for you, I wouldn't think about it too much.  It was a natural part of the book that didn't feel too heavy or overwhelming to take in.  So, I would definitely give it a try if that is the only thing stopping you.

You might be wondering why I didn't give this book five out of five stars now after I've been praising it for so long.  The truth boils down to Hopkins' ending.  I can't describe to you how frustrated I suddenly became with this book, all within a few pages.  To be specific and not spoil, the very last pages were wonderful and made me very happy, but what led up to it just a few pages before made me want to just forget the book entirely.  There were so many ways that Ellen Hopkins could have dealt with Matt finding forgiveness, and I felt like she could have chosen a much better option.  I was disappointed to say the least.  The repercussions were both good and bad in my eyes, uplifting yet absolutely horrifying.  This probably does not make a ton of sense unless you have read the book.  So, just know that I was so mad and was more than willing to give this book 5 stars until this point.  However, I refuse to let that part of the book define the rest of its entirety.  After a long period of internal struggle, I decided on 3.75.

In conclusion, Rumble was a great read for me...until the ending (which was a little frustrating for me yet sort of satisfying in some slight way), but it was still a beautiful story worth picking up.

******SPOILERS BELOW******
I felt like the explosion and how Matt got caught in it was completely unnecessary!  The fact that his eyesight is ruined at this point and the other issues relating to the aftermath of him waking up was infuriating me for some reason.  Yes, it did bring his family together, but I feel as though this was unnecessary in Matt's journey to finally begin loving life again.  I like to think there were other alternatives.

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