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Book Review: Triangles by Ellen Hopkins

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Triangles is a tale that is, on the one hand psychologically disturbing, and on the other hand, a story quite beautifully written. I say disturbing because the three main women in this tale all have very troubled marital and familial relationships that appear to be the product of troubled, misguided pasts and/or learned prejudice. The alleged impetus for such disturbing affairs is implied, if not stated as female mid-life crises.

As she turns forty, there is Holly, who longs to be different, even though her marriage to a successful attorney has brought her the luxury of being a stay-at-home mother. Now, she seeks direction — she wants to explore her own ambitions — she wants to be noticed as more than a mere mother. She wants to be a provocative woman sought by men. In exploiting her sexuality, she loses sight of the very family she had raised. Her love and that of her husband grow increasingly distant.

In Triangles, there is single-mother, Andrea, who has lived what she feels is a high quality, yet lonely, life caring for an only child. She abhors the life of her voluptuous friend, Holly; yet at the same time, much like her friend Andrea, also seeks the admiration and closeness of a fulfilling male sex partner. Unfortunately, in her loneliness, Andrea crawls into the vacant spot in Holly’s marital bed.

And finally, because she is so devoted to a daughter with a terminally debilitating condition, Marissa becomes a slave to her child’s care. Marissa’s husband shucks off his responsibility toward the sure-to-die child. He spends more and more evenings in his office and in Triangles, he, too, establishes a long adulterous affair. In addition, he cannot warm to his maturing gay son who claims to be in love with another gay youth who is possibly HIV positive.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the prose-like way Author Ellen Hopkins penned her book, following the distraught lives of three unsettled women, reminded me too much of a plod through The Valley of Tears. Am I the one missing the reality of women in mid-life crisis? Are there really that many married women who, at forty, discover their lives so deplete of pleasure that they and their husbands seek extra-marital affairs?

What will happen to Holly, Andrea, and Marissa? Will their lives change? Triangles will offer some hope that once again, its characters become adjusted — contented. How? The answers to these questions I will leave to the reader of Triangles. I have no doubt that there will be readers who praise this tale because it shadows the plight of their own lives.

But I would hope there are far more women who are happy to be alive; women who are proud to have raised normally adjusted children; women who, after raising their family, decide that now is the time to begin a promising career and begin a second rewarding life without desecrating their first one.

On page 351 of Triangles, author Ellen Hopkins alludes to this hope with her poem: A STAR RISES.

A star rises.
Pale. Frail, A stitch
Of embroidered light
Upon the dark forever
Fabric of space

I would recommend this book to readers who like tales crammed with emotion, betrayal, angst, and hope. It is a moving tale; more because of the beauty of its prose, than its distressing story.

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