Monday, November 14, 2011


Hopkins, E. (2005). Crank. NY: Simon Pulse.
LS5385: YA Lit / Fiction - Censored literature

Crank Book Trailer

To get an indication of how quickly you get pulled into this book, I will share what happened to me.  I was in Dallas for a race packet pick-up, and unfortunately, I hadn't paid attention to the pick-up times and was early.  I had not brought a thing with me to do - no book to read, no notes to write, nothing - but as luck would have it, the SMU campus Barnes and Noble was just a few doors down.  They did have two shelves of young adult literature, and somehow I remembered that Crank  was on the list. Seriously, even with that title, I knew nothing about it.  I picked it up, plopped down, and came out of the fog two hundred and twenty-two pages later!  (Packet pick-up was well under way.)

The story is told in first person verse, with the words wandering around the page often to mimic the main character's (Kristina's) musings.  Though that style really limits the ability to much develop secondary characters, I enjoyed the change of pace and how quickly the story unfolded.  LOTS of white space made the book less daunting, which I think it would otherwise be since it's about three inches thick.

I noticed that the author said the story was based loosely on her own daughter's, so while reading I frequently wondered if the author was speculating or was speaking from real knowledge gained via her daughter's experiences.  As a parent, I was horrified at how Kristina's real father, with whom she hadn't had contact since she was five or so, really enabled his daughter to go down this path of destruction.  A three week visit with him results in his sixteen-year-old daughter smoking, drinking alcohol, losing her virginity (and by way of unprotected sex with a drug addict), getting a tattoo, and ultimately using and becoming addicted to meth.  Her loving father even "parties" with her! I was disgusted.

One underlying premise in this story is that straight-laced, straight-A Kristina has another persona, named Bree, just simmering below the surface.  It's possible that Bree would have come out of hiding without the trip to Dad's, but I think she'd been kept in check so long it was doubtful she would have been able to bring Bree to life until she went off to college, out of the watchful, knowing eyes of her mother.  I really don't think this was a split personality thing as much as Kristina wishing she could be someone else, disconnected from her hum-drum life.

One disappointment was that at the end, there seems to be hope.  I know this sounds strange, but I wonder if the young adult reader might think that it all could work out fine he/she does a little experimenting with any number of the things Kristina tries: skipping school, smoking, drinking alcohol, having unprotected sex, drinking blood, doing crank, pot, ecstasy.  Yes, there's a baby born at the end, but the feeling is that the baby didn't have any ill-effects from Kristina's drug use, and of course, the baby's going to be fine with a caring boyfriend (who's not the father) and Kristina's mom and step-dad - and their well-stocked bank account - to take care of it all.  That is usually NOT the reality for any kid that goes down the drug and baby path.

There are sequels, Glass and Fallout, so if the names are any indication, the semi-hopeful ending in Crank will be temporary.  I do think teens would love this because it's written very much in teen-speak and about teen issues and concerns.  "The Monster," as Kristina refers to the meth/Crank, clearly makes Kristina brave enough to go after what she wants, to be confident in herself, and to be sensual and sexual.  This sure makes it sound appealing, and if you can just sleep it off for a few days and have adults who aren't up in your business about why, then I worry that it would draw-in someone who was curious or wanting an "easy" fix to teenage awkwardness and angst. I guess it all didn't sound bad enough for me.  Bad, yes, but not rock-bottom bad.

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