Friday, February 13, 2015

Book Review: "Crank" (Ellen Hopkins)

Ever found yourself beholden to a monster?

Maybe it was a person. Someone who did everything to reach inside your mind and mess with you, make you feel like you were less than everyone else, make you question your sanity, make you wonder who you were and why you even mattered.

Maybe it was a situation. Something you didn't create (or maybe you did) but had to deal with anyone. Something whose consequences landed on you even though you didn't want to have anything to do with it. Something you suffered through because someone else made a stupid decision and didn't think to ask whether you wanted your life ruined.

Or maybe it was something man-made. Maybe it was a substance. A drug.

Say, methamphetamine, also called crank.

In her unique, groundbreaking work, Crank, author Ellen Hopkins traces the series of choices made by high school junior Kristina that lead her to take her first taste of methamphetamine.

After that, nothing is ever the same --- not the relationships she tries and fails to forge, not the classes at school she fails, not her role in her family, and not the innocence she once had, before her choices led her down a path she now can't escape by herself.

Hopkins uses a fascinating method to tell Kristina's story, relying on what I'd call contemporary poetry and even word painting as a means to convey the chaos, panic, and desperation that drives Kristina's decisions. Furthermore, the story is a well-researched survey into a problem that is deeply frightening and all-too-common in today's society: how easy it is for someone to say "yes" to something that promises to help him/her escape from whatever challenges he/she is facing in life, and that then betrays the promise completely.

Kristina could be any average teenage girl --- divorced parents, her drug-abuser dad estranged from the family, her mom remarried, her stepfather not quite "with it," her older sister recently out of the closet as a lesbian, her younger brother a typical annoyance. She represents the whole of those in the world who are desperate to belong and to find a way to make hurt feelings and disappointments go away, even if that means diving headlong into something from which there is no comeback easily attained.

Brutally honest, darkly humorous, and frighteningly possible in both its scope and focus, Crank is a read that will stay with you long after you've turned the last page.

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Author: Ellen Hopkins
Title: Crank
ISBN: 978-0-689-86519-0
Purchase here:

Disclaimer: The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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