In this emotionally powerful novel, three women face the age-old midlife question: If I’m halfway to death, is this all I’ve got to show for it? Holly, filled with regret for being a stay-at-home mom, sheds sixty pounds and loses herself in the world of extramarital sex. Andrea, a single mom and avowed celibate, watches her friend Holly’s meltdown with a mixture of concern and contempt. Holly is throwing away what Andrea has spent her whole life searching for—a committed relationship with a decent guy. So what if Andrea picks up Holly’s castaway husband? Then there’s Marissa. She has more than her fair share of challenges—a gay teenage son, a terminally ill daughter, and a husband who buries himself in his work rather than face the facts. As one woman’s marriage unravels, another one’s rekindles. As one woman’s family comes apart at the seams, another’s is reconfigured into something bigger and better. In this story of connections and disconnections, one woman’s up is another one’s down, and all three of them will learn the meaning of friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness before it is through.
So the synopsis warns that that the novel holds nothing back in its portrayal of three friends who are navigating life and adulthood (with all its gory responsibilities). And that is certainly true. Unlike other readers, I do not come to Triangles and Ellen Hopkins’s writing with a preconceived notion of her work as I have not read her YA novels. I don’t know whether that is a good thing or not but I found Triangles to be raw, piercing, heartbreaking and utterly beautiful.
This is not a book you read to make yourself feel better. It does not give you warm fuzzies. What it does is disturb you. It makes you think. It is in verse form and if I were to speak about the poetry alone, I would gush for hours. I love how she works with the structure of the poetry to create different levels of meaning. There’s a certain intimacy perpetuated by the verse form that works very well with her subject matter.
Imagine waking up one morning and realizing that life has played out in a way that you did not expect it to. That you had so many dreams, so many hopes, so many things to do in the future and now that the future is here, you have somehow settled for less. It’s a sobering realization and all the three women are affected by it. The story of how their lives unravel, the decisions they make, their journey into themselves and out again – that is Triangles.
I recommend it to people who like their reading a bit heavier. Who are prepared to read something substantial and answer the questions this book will evoke.