Tilt – Ellen Hopkins


Love—good and bad—forces three teens’ worlds to tilt in a riveting novel from New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkins.

Three teens, three stories—all interconnected through their parents’ family relationships. As the adults pull away, caught up in their own dilemmas, the lives of the teens begin to tilt….

Mikayla, almost eighteen, is over-the-top in love with Dylan, who loves her back jealously. But what happens to that love when Mikayla gets pregnant the summer before their senior year—and decides to keep the baby?

Shane turns sixteen that same summer and falls hard in love with his first boyfriend, Alex, who happens to be HIV positive. Shane has lived for four years with his little sister’s impending death. Can he accept Alex’s love, knowing that his life, too, will be shortened?

Harley is fourteen—a good girl searching for new experiences, especially love from an older boy. She never expects to hurdle toward self-destructive extremes in order to define who she is and who she wants to be.

Love, in all its forms, has crucial consequences in this standalone novel.


Mikayla: A girl head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Dylan. A love of weed, boos and parties. A family that’s tearing apart at the seams. An unwanted pregnancy that will change her life forever.

Shane: Out of the close. In love with a boy named Alex, who just happens to have HIV. A drunk father who looks upon him with disgust. A little sister heading toward death. A mother with almost no hope.

Harley: A fourteen year old who sees nothing but fat when she looks in the mirror. Divorced parents, one heading toward a new marriage. A desperate search to find out who she is. Drugs. Boos. Sex. False Love.

Shelby: A four-year-old who is regarded as a person with no sense of life. Confined to tube feeding forever. Hovering on the brink of death, she just wants her family to be happy.

Alex: HIV positive. In love with Shane. Catholic Private school. On his way to an Ivy League.


All of these characters, among many more, play a major role in Tilt by Ellen Hopkins. A novel of poetry, rape, love, depression, homosexuality, HIV, drugs, sex, teen pregnancy, mental illness, death, and self discovery. Join Mikayla, Shane, Harley and the rest of the people that surround their lives in this realistic, contemporary piece that Hopkins has built.


I have never been a fan of poetry or even contemporary books, if I want to be honest. I’ve never seemed to understand poetry or appreciate the realistic theme of contemporary books. Sometimes life just sucks, and, for the most part, I don’t want to read about it. I like to submerge myself into the unrealistic. The werewolves, vampires, witches, and other things that go bump in the night take me away from the realities of the world. It’s a chance to escape and put myself into a whole other universe. While Tilt, by Ellen Hopkins, was as real as it can possibly get, I found myself devouring it. I would sit down and read hundreds of pages at a time, lost in the depression that shaped the character’s lives. I was hooked plain and simple.

It took my awhile to get attached to Tilt, because I had to adjust to Hopkins unique writing style. I’ve never read a book by Hopkins before, so it caught me a little off guard that the entire book was poetry. It wasn’t difficult to read, though. Unlike the poetry that we’re forced to read in school, Tilt was an actual story with beautiful form and breathtaking words. It was also a very fast read. Most books fill up their pages with words, while Tilt had a brief section of words on each page.

Some of the topics that Tilt introduced were really easy to read, while others were really hard for me to get through. I loved the topic of teen pregnancy. I am so addicted to movies and books that discuss teen pregnancy because they are so real. Teen pregnancy is a major thing that goes on in today’s society. When I was a junior in high school, there were three senior girls who were almost to term with their pregnancy. Today, most of the girl’s from my very first high school are either pregnant, married, or both. I’m not kidding when I use the word “most.” Honestly, I don’t know a girl at my first high school who doesn’t have a kid or a husband. I thought that Hopkins beautifully portrayed how teen pregnancy truly is. She didn’t sugar coat it or make everything turn out okay. She was realistic with how things work in real life.

I did have a problem when it came to Harley’s story, probably because I related to her the most. I had a big issue watching a fourteen-year-old girl suffer through weight problems, deal with a dirtbag father, have divorced parents, and look toward other’s for love. The beginning of Harley’s story wasn’t too intense, but by the time I made it to the last quarter of the book, I found it very  difficult to read the pages dedicated to her. It wasn’t because the writing was bad. Actually, the writing was beautiful. However, I had big issues with some of the topics that came up in this story.

Ellen Hopkins did such a great job of portraying the love between Shane and his boyfriend. This is a very controversial topic for some people, but I was in love with it from the moment I read the synopsis. Gay love and homosexuality in general need to be more explored in young adult books, because it is a real life topic. Being gay does not make someone unequal or unimportant. I really enjoyed watching the growth of of Shane’s dad. He was really against Shane ever since he came out of the closet. He would preach to Shane and tell him what an abomination he was, and that really effected me. Shane, while a fictional character, reminded me of people I’ve met in similar situations. To me, Shane was a real person with his own issues and emotions. To me, he was no less than a straight person, and I loved him from the get go.

I had a bit of a problem with understanding who was who and who was related to whom. Everyone seemed to know eachother, and I was pretty lost throughout most of the book on how people knew eachother. It wasn’t a big deal, but I found myself kind of giving up on that aspect of the book.

The only thing that I really questioned in this book, besides who knew who, was how realistic it was that an entire branch of family was so messed up. I would have preferred that none of the characters knew each other, and that we were witnessing people from all over the United States.  I only say this because I have a large branch of family, and I know other people who do as well. I’m not saying that this can never happen to one family, but from my perspective, I’ve witnessed it usually being one family and the rest of their family stays out of it. However, I did enjoy how real and true Hopkins stayed to her story lines. She didn’t cut around the edges or add something fake in to draw in her readers. She told it how it was, and I really appreciated that.

I do have to warn people that the topics of rape and mental abuse are included in this story. Most of the guys, especially the teenage boys, in this story really offended and disgusted me. It is never okay for someone to pressure you into sex or to request favors that you are not interested in. It is never okay for someone to give you ultimatums or to make you feel obligated to do something you don’t want to do.  It is never ok for your partner to pull guilt trips or to constantly make you feel bad or worthless just to get their way. These are all forms of abuse, and if you’re experiencing them, then you need to contact an adult or the police. Please keep in mind that it doesn’t matter if you’re married or not. Abuse is abuse and rape is rape. Never put up with it. I want you all to know that you can always contact me about these things going on in your life, and I will keep it between us unless you officially tell me you’re a minor. You can go through our contact info on the tabs above and specifically request to speak to me. I will not judge you, but I am always here to talk to. You can also contact me via our twitter page.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was beautiful and realistic, and it moved me in more ways than I can express. To me, the ending was a little unfinished. I would really like to see what happens with the rest of their lives and how they work through their struggles. Everyone needs to go buy or borrow this book immediately, as it is a must read.


Pages: 604

Publication Date: September 11th, 2012

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Rating: [rating: 4.5]


Teaser Quote: “And if candor
strikes to forcefully,
step back, draw careful
breath, and consider the angle
your words must take
before you open
your mouth, let them leak
out. Because once you tilt the truth,
it becomes a lie.” 

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