Hopkins, E. (2004). Crank. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Crank is the haunting tale of a young teenage girl named Kristina. She goes to visit her father that has been estranged to her in years and falls into a life of drugs and young love. She calls her desire for “crank” or speed the monster and addresses her alter-ego, Bree who tells her to do drugs, flirt with boys, and smoke cigarettes. Upon meeting her father, who she has idealized for years, she is immediately let down. Thus begins her summer of flirting with temptation, doing drugs under her dad’s supervision, and dating a boy who is currently seeing another girl. She toys with sex, with drugs, and dangerous situations. She describes the highs as well as the lows that are involved with her building addiction. She then travels back home at the end of the summer and is forced to adjust to adjust to real life. She does not succeed and continues to feed her addiction.
This spiral leads to more self-doubt, drugs, and sex. She soon finds that she is pregnant and goes through waves of decisions to abort, adopt, or keep her child. In the end, she decides to keep her child but finds that she cannot be the mother she wanted to be. In the end, the monster calls to her and takes her away from her child.
Written in verse, this book is powerful. Every sentence has an impact, ever feeling is felt. It is a wonderful book to really emphasize the struggle that is a result of addiction. It explains in non-romantic terms how once it takes hold it never lets go. Even in the face of love and commitment to reform, the monster is always present and can never be escaped. As with some drug stories, I find that the stories romanticize drugs until they go wrong. This book does no such thing. From the beginning its a struggle, from the beginning it is not appealing. This is important in the establishment of how people get hooked on drugs. It as well does a wonderful job at establishing the mental addiction that comes with drug addiction. Kristina is no longer herself, she is Bree and Bree controls her decisions when it comes to drugs. Kristina may not approve of what is happening but she is not in control any longer and the split-personality helps establish that lack of control. The ending is heartbreaking, as Kristina gives birth to a child that is not specifically said to have birth defects, but it is implied that some issues exist that make it more difficult. Bree then takes over, as she does, and leads to Kristina leaving her child with her mother as she is not capable of loving him as much as she wants and her addiction is too strong.
What really hits the emotional nerve is the author’s note that explains that this story is loosely based on the author’s daughter, whose child is now 7 years old and in the loving care of the author.
Like the teenage crack user in the film Traffic, the young addict in this wrenching, cautionary debut lives in a comfortable, advantaged home with caring parents. Sixteen-year-old Kristina first tries crank, or crystal meth, while visiting her long-estranged father, a crank junkie. Bree is Kristina’s imagined, bolder self, who flirts outrageously and gets high without remorse, and when Kristina returns to her mother and family in Reno, it’s Bree who makes connections with edgy guys and other crank users that escalate into full-blown addiction and heartrending consequences. Hopkins tells Kristina’s story in experimental verse. A few overreaching lines seem out of step with character voices: a boyfriend, for example, tells Kristina that he’d like to wait for sex until she is “free from dreams of yesterday.” But Hopkins uses the spare, fragmented style to powerful effect, heightening the emotional impact of dialogues, inner monologues, and devastating scenes, including a brutal date rape. Readers won’t soon forget smart, sardonic Kristina; her chilling descent into addiction; or the author’s note, which references her own daughter’s struggle with “the monster.”
Engberg, E. (2004). [Review of Crank]. Booklists. Retrieved from: http://booklistonline.com/Crank-Ellen-Hopkins/pid=232295
While roaming the aisles of a bookstore in 2005, I discovered Crank. The stark white drug slang title on a black background immediately appealed to my curiosity. After reading the author’s note about the story being loosely based on her daughter’s drug addiction, I thumbed through the pages and was surprised to find the narrative told in poetic form. I knew this book was going to be a hit with teens not only because of the edgy topic, but because the unique format is entertaining as well as non-threatening. The lure of wanting to know what happened to a quasi-real character is compelling. With her story Hopkins had a captivated audience.
Crank is unique, and Hopkins has created a winning formula for her book’s success: interesting subject matter, personal experience, and narrative poetry that flows and is easy to comprehend. This book is fluent in teen speak and directly addresses uncomfortable, but important issues. Due to the mature subject matter of the book my and the publisher’s age recommendation is 14-up. (Margaret K. McElderry, 2004. ISBN: 9780689865190)
Kendall, J. (2004). Teen Book Review: Crank. Children’s Books. Retrieved from: http://childrensbooks.about.com/od/5youngadultbooks/fr/Cran-Teen-Book-Review.htm
This is the perfect book to lead a discussion with teenagers about addiction, about people they may know with addiction, and the undeniable consequences of addition. It is important for teenagers to feel the consequences as opposed to just learning about the issues that come with drug use, as this book does very well. This book is all about feelings and emotions that follow drugs use. It is a great book to recommend to readers who love beautiful poetry and want to develop empathy for what a drug addict goes through.