Most people would not look at a book whose cover features a word spelled out in lines of cocaine and think “hey, a poetry book!” I certainly didn't. Regardless, the cover is intriguing and jarring and makes a bold statement right off the bat, much like this book. It hooked me immediately, much like “The Monster” hooked Kristina. Based loosely off the real-life events of the author’s daughter, Crank instantly grabs the reader and doesn't let go until the very end.
Crank, like I assume many drug addictions do, starts off innocently enough. Kristina is a 15 year old girl visiting her dad in a small, dusty New Mexico town outside of Albuquerque. She resents her parents for their messy divorce and for forcing her to spend weeks holed up in her father’s disgusting bachelor pad. But given enough time to explore, Kristina discovers the darker side of her father’s life: a strong love of methamphetamines, also known as crank. A few nights at the sleazy bowling alley where her father works introduces Kristina herself to crank as well as a mysterious boy, Adam. Both addictions are the result of Kristina’s struggle with what seems to be Multiple Personality Disorder. While Kristina has her doubts and self-restraint, her alter ego Bree takes the lead when it comes to destructive decisions. Kristina heads home after a short while, but not without a newfound addiction. Back in her hometown of Reno, NV, Bree struggles to fuel her crank addiction and maintain Kristina’s straight-A student status. More boys enter the picture, bringing nothing but trouble. As the novel escalates and Kristina/Bree gets into more and more trouble, she is faced with harsher consequences as her life spirals out of control. In the end, she is faced with a difficult decision in a lose-lose situation.
Like I mentioned previously, Crank is written in free verse, a fluid poetry style that creates different emotions depending on the style of each page. The verse formatting meshes well with the story without distracting from the plot. This book may not seem very poetic at first glance, but Hopkins is a master of her craft and uses free verse to her advantage.
Crank is a strange book in that it’s very easy to read but also very difficult. It’s a quick book with few words that carry a fast-paced and exciting plot. However, the subject matter is very heavy, including drugs, rape, and teen pregnancy. This book is certainly not for the faint of heart. But those who are willing to read about Kristina’s difficult life will definitely get something out of this book. It’s been used across the nation to dissuade young readers from drug use. I can’t say I’ve ever had an interest in getting hooked on crystal meth before reading this book, but I certainly don’t have any interest after reading it.
Andrew Pospeshil is a Novi High School student involved in Robotics, Japanese club, and the school newspaper. He has a love of reading, but finds little time to sit down with a good book between his classes and extra-curriculars.
There is a line halfway through Jacqueline Woodson’s novel that perfectly encompasses the lesson learned, and reflected upon throughout her childhood. Little Jacqueline sits at her grandfather’s, or “Daddy’s”, feet while he explains the silent fight blacks had to endure during recent years. He explains the marches, boycotts, and silent acts of rebellion that people must be “ready to die for.” He looks down at his three grandkids, their eyes full of innocence, and says “Be ready to die… for everything you believe in.”
Woodson takes readers back in time to the 60’s and provides a firsthand view of a young black girl’s childhood during the fight for civil rights. She captures the days spent swinging under the hot summer sun in her South Carolina backyard, with blue ribbons tied to her braids whipping through the air; and the times spent gripping tightly to her mother’s hand as they walked to the back of an empty bus, where they were told they belong. It is an eye opening journey that is told through the fresh perspective of young Jacqueline trying to understand her friends, family, and place in this big world surrounding her through the will of her pen in hand.
Though Woodson captures her childhood beautifully, it can be quite confusing placing each of the many family members mentioned on the family tree correctly. This repeated confusion throughout the novel takes away from her overall purpose of her novel. Just like how words became scrambled in her five-year-old mind, her family and their purposes were confused in mine. Although, this may distract from Woodson's story, it does not detract from the learning experience that can be gained from reading this book.
By sharing sweet stories told from her happy summer days spent at her grandparents’ Carolina home, to the gloomy days of her preteen years in New York, Woodson forms a bond with readers that allows us to feel her happiest and most painful moments. Readers develop an empathetic understanding. The basic storyline of an African American’s struggling lifestyle in America during the 60s opens the eyes of those who have lived a more privileged lifestyle presently. Experiences such as murdered family members, being discriminated against in stores, and feeling fear as mama walks out the door to join the marches, is all eloquently captured in poetry format ironically reflecting her love of writing poetry as a child and longing to become an author. This novel opens a reader’s eyes to the day-to- day life of an African American in the south coping with turbulent times by following her dream as a writer. Kids to adults can all enjoy this novel and take valuable lessons from it.
Arthur Rimbaud was a poet from France in the late 1800s. Like most, he was underappreciated in his time and died early, but nearly a century after his work he became an icon for the free loving, anti war hippies of the 60s and 70s.
Through his work, compiled and translated by Paul Schmidt, the reader may watch Rimbaud go from a fanciful, romantic teenager chasing love in the form of skirts and blonde hair to an angry young man searching desperately for his life through forbidden lovers and drugs. The fall of Rimbaud is chaotic yet beautiful, in the way only a poet could fall from grace.
Rimbaud’s early work describes beautiful women, gods and goddesses, and the golden, carefree days of youth. In his poems, he writes of girls who spin stars on their fingernails and the beauty of flowers and streams, painting a pretty picture of the soul of a romantic. However, through his letters to his mentor and friends, the reader catches a glimpse of a confused boy, desperate to make something of himself and escape the monotonous, ordinary life his mother is forcing him to lead.
As Rimbaud gets older, his desperation and longing for something more becomes increasingly explicit, and his poems take on the bitter edge of a hopeless youth, yet many are still laced with hope. Through his letters, the story of the poets journeys are told- his drug abuse and the gay lover that shot him in the hand in an alcohol induced rage being perhaps the most interesting.
Rimbaud, dead at 37, then spends the last few years of his life scorning the poetry and romance he loved in his youth. His bitterness and anger at the world are seen through his last few letters to the same lover who shot him, and then the world loses a poet who will be remembered as a lover, as the man who proclaimed “I don't love women. Love has to be reinvented, we know that.”
I've always been entranced by poetry and pretty words, but Arthur Rimbaud is truly the most interesting poet I've ever read. His struggles with love and life create beautiful poetry that kept me up at night, rereading and memorizing specific lines that I found especially beautiful or profound. While I'm generally more hopeless than romantic, Rimbaud had me wishing I could always see the world through his eyes, not just when I'm reading one of his poems. Even when what he wrote was about ugly things, it was still laced with the beauty that we associate with poetry.
Rimbaud is a poet anyone can enjoy, as I found when I read some of his sweeter poems to my younger cousins in an attempt to get them to sit still. Even at 4 and 5, they enjoyed the lovely way his words form and were content to sit and listen to me read for a good half an hour. Even if you're not a poetry person, Rimbaud is easily enjoyable and the way his tone changes from romantic to angry to sad makes it possible to find at least one poem that you will enjoy.
Review by Emily Kaley