Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books (10/01/04)
Genres: Young Adult/New Adult
Pages: 537 • Source: Rented
Buy it: Amazon • Add it: Goodreads
My rating: 5.0
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In Crank, Ellen Hopkins chronicles the turbulent and often disturbing relationship between Kristina, a character based on her own daughter, and the "monster," the highly addictive drug crystal meth, or "crank." Kristina is introduced to the drug while visiting her largely absent and ne'er-do-well father. While under the influence of the monster, Kristina discovers her sexy alter-ego, Bree: "there is no perfect daughter, / no gifted high school junior, / no Kristina Georgia Snow. / There is only Bree." Bree will do all the things good girl Kristina won't, including attracting the attention of dangerous boys who can provide her with a steady flow of crank.
When I began to read Crank, I was (to say the least) aggravated. I couldn't get past the stupid choices made by many of the characters in the book; particularly Kristina's mother and Kristina herself. **Spoiler Alert** I mean what mother would send her young teen to stay with a father who has been M.I.A. for eight years and also happens to be a heavy drug user. And for Kristina herself, why would she even consider taking a single hit of meth when she's seen with her own eyes what it's done to her father. These were my thoughts as I made my way through the beginning of Crank.**End Spoiler Alert**
So, I decided to STOP reading Crank. But I found the plot of the story compelling enough to do a little research on the person behind the story, the author. I have never read any of Hopkins books so I wanted to familiarize myself with her and try to understand why she would write this type of story. What I found changed my mind completely and gave me the boost I needed to finish reading Crank.
What did I find out? Alot. The reason why Hopkins chose to write a book such as this? To find a way to understand her own daughters addiction to crank (meth). It turns out the story is based on her daughters road to substance abuse and the struggles the family has endured for the past 14-15 years (time may be off). I feel this is important to notate because it gives a completely different experience to the reading (in my opinion). I was able to see past my own vexation and acknowledge that I cannot judge what I don't know, what I myself have never experienced. I also realized in my own path to discovery that I held a lot of personal resentment because of my own cousins bad choices. Choices that eventually led to his death.
With my new enlightenment I proceeded to continue my reading of Crank and I am so glad I did. This story can only be compared to riding the worlds largest roller-coaster (cliche I know but there really is no better comparison). As you read through Kristina's struggles, in a free verse form, you get the real feeling of what it's like to be under the influence. Her jumbled thoughts, distorted words, and detachments come through in a way I imagine only Hopkins can deliver. There's fear, anticipation, and conflict all bottled up inside with no where for release.
Kristina's character is so complex that not even Hopkins can seem to fully expose the inner demons within her. It felt at times that the main character was actually "the monster" (crank) and not Kristina, like it was the meth describing herself to the reader, describing in detail the many secrets she holds. Kristina was simply the vessel by which she told her story.
I strongly believe that there were many issues present inside Kristina (the person) before She (crank) surfaced, and I believe this is evident by the split personality that becomes quickly evident in the beginning of the story-Bree. Bree is the other half of Kristina, the strong half, the one that gives her the "strength" she needs in order to make the many bad decisions she makes.
While I wouldn't say this story offers much hope, it does offer a detailed glimpse into the life of an addict and the severity of making that first choice. The choice, once made, is difficult to take back and often (as we see with the characters in the story) irreversible. There are many deep issues addressed in Crank, and it's definitely more for an older teen, possibly even more of a New Adult. But one worth reading nonetheless. I can only hope that this story will steer others away from such dangerous drugs and hopefully save the life of at least one person.
With that I will leave you with some of Kristina's parting words....
Crank is more than a drug.
It's a way of life. You can
turn your back. But you can
never really walk away.