I picked up "Crank," by Ellen Hopkins, at a used book sale, without bothering to skim the back cover.
As a writer of young adult fiction, I devour that genre almost always. Often, though, I don't read a bestseller until long after it first hits the shelves. I grabbed the dog-eared copy of "Crank," copyright 2004, because I recognized it as a title I'd never gotten around to adding to my collection. A monster of a book (almost 2" thick), it is unusually set in poetry form and actually a very quick read. The story, however, about a "perfect" teenage girl named Kristina, who has stellar grades, a bright future AND a budding methamphetamine drug addiction, leaves the reader thinking and thinking and thinking long after closing the cover.
Exposing the ugly underbelly of today's drug epidemic, "Crank" puts a new face to a very real problem. Cheerleader, brain, lifeguard? The book's true monster, crank, can take hold of anyone. We meet Kristina's other self, "Bree," who is "not quite straight-A," "not quite sanitary," and "not quite sane."
"Crank" made me think.
"Crank" terrified me.
I am a parent of two beautiful, intelligent young women with bright futures, very much like Kristina. I can only hope I have raised them to resist what is out there, apparently so readily available to anyone with the cash and contacts to make it happen. In our stressed out society of super teens trying to be everything to everyone, "Crank" made me understand the appeal of feeling sky high, even if the low that follows is the lowest of lows.
"Crank" is that book we all pray never comes to life in our own homes.
The author, Hopkins, notes that, while the book is fiction, it is loosely based on the very true story of her own daughter.
"The monster (crank) did touch her life, and the lives of her family. My family," says Hopkins. "It is hard to watch someone you love fall so deeply under the spell of a substance that turns him or her into a stranger. Someone you don't even want to know."
IN MY OPINION: "Crank" is a must read for any parent. "Crank" is also a must read for any teenager. Period. If it can prevent even one very bad decision, it was worth the publishing.
Heart wrenching. Real. Scary. Sad. Crank is a monster no one wants to see crawl from under the bed, but "Crank," by Ellen Hopkins, is a book for every bookshelf. Visit www.ellenhopkins.com, for details about her other titles.
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