Post #25: Crank

Crank
Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Post number twenty-five is for Ellen Hopkins’ Crank, which was an assigned title for my YA Lit course. Crank is written in verse, and the author did a really good job of using the way the words were laid out on the page to express what she was saying. In fact, I don’t think Crank would have been nearly as impactful if it had been written in regular novel form. For a book that was over 500 pages, it was hard to put down and I found myself engrossed throughout. Be forewarned that the subject matter is a bit dark, though. Crank is the slang term for meth, and the main character is very addicted to it and willing to do almost anything to get it.

Spoilers follow.

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Kristina goes to visit her father in Arizona for three weeks one summer. While she’s there she falls in love with her first boyfriend, Adam, who gets her to experiment with drugs, culminating with crank, or meth. While she’s in AZ, she basically becomes an entirely different person, whom she names Bree. Bree does all kinds of things that Kristina would never do (like doing drugs), and when Kristina gets back home, she finds it very hard to put Bree back in her place. She winds up alienating her friends and finding new friends, all of whom have some sort of vice. She meets two boys, Brendan and Chase, and can’t decide between them. Because she wants meth so desperately and, at this point, can’t find any, she has Brendan locate some for her, but he wants her virginity in exchange. She tells him no, he doesn’t listen (saying she owes him), and he rapes her. Chase, meanwhile, is Brendan’s complete opposite. Chase isn’t very good looking but he really cares about Kristina. He, too, however, is hooked on drugs, and her involvement with Chase just makes her life spiral even more out of control. Her grades are dropping (she’s skipping school a lot) and she can’t focus because she’s so drug-addled the majority of the time. She even gets arrested at one point, and also finds out she’s pregnant, but none of these serve as a wake-up call for her.

The book ends with her sneaking out the door, unable to get away from the lure of meth (even though she’s been mostly clean since she found out she was pregnant, and had the baby), and leaving the baby in her mother’s care. There are two other books in this series, but the story just gets more and more ridiculous so I don’t think I’ll be reading them.

This is not the first book I’ve read that deals with someone’s addiction. I read Nikki Sixx’s The Heroin Diaries, in which he recounts his addiction to heroin through 1986-1987 through the journal entries he wrote at the time. One interesting tidbit is that Nikki said in an interview that he never once touched meth, saying he knew, even in his addled and addicted state, that meth was too dark and too dangerous (not that heroin isn’t – he ODed twice on it and nearly died both times). Funny how even your hardcore drug users don’t want to dance with the devil.

One thing that irked me with this book was that Kristina’s mother is in complete denial, even though she divorced Kristina’s father because of his drug use/alcoholism. Kristina’s stepfather tries to get her mother to realize that she’s using, but she keeps blowing it off. While Kristina’s personality, behavior and mood changes drastically, she never admits her drug use to her mother and her mother never confronts her about it, even though she HAD to know. That really bugged me; the mother was very self-absorbed but her inability to see what was right in front of her really took the cake. (And don’t even get my started on Kristina’s father; he is the epitome of a loser. :-P)

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