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.