Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Reviewed by Margo Dill, www.margodill.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Young adult novel (probably for high school students)
17-year-old girl, main character
Rating: Beautiful verse that leaves you thinking for months
Short, short summary: Ellen Hopkins knows what it is like to have a daughter addicted to crystal meth. She knows how to write a captivating and haunting story of a beautiful, confused teenager who doesn’t want to be addicted to the “monster,” but she is. This book has several disturbing issues in it: date rape, drugs, addiction, lying, stealing, teenage partying and sex. But everyone–including teenagers, educators, and parents–should read it. Anyone who thinks this could not touch his family might be lying to himself. This book is one of those books that needs to be read and discussed, so a “Bree” doesn’t pop up suddenly in a family. You fall in love with Bree/Kristina in this book, and you want her to say no, she wants to say no, but she’s an addict.
You think of private referrals for addiction treatment, but most likely she will refuse it.
So, what do I do with this book?
1. This is a perfect book for reading and writing journal entries. This book touches on raw emotion, on teenage life, and on teenage insecurities. For example, take the section of the book when Kristina starts ditching her old friends for her new friends. A journal entry you could ask students or your teenager to write (or a discussion you could start) would be: Have you ever had a friend change, and you no longer hang out anymore? If so, what did it feel like? What did you do? Have you ever stopped hanging out with a friend? Why? Make sure your students or your teenagers know their journal writings are respected and private, as in they will not have to share them with the class.
2. Crank is written completely in verse. After reading the book, it is easy to say that it couldn’t have been written any other way. The topic is difficult, and so is the story, and the verse just fits both. Ask your students or your child to try writing a story from their lives in verse. It doesn’t have to be a serious topic. It could be a perfect summer day or the first day of school. It could be serious–such as a funeral or getting in trouble. The verse does not have to rhyme. Have your students pay attention to the way some of the verses in Crank are in shapes and patterns. Ask your students to experiment with their verse and do something similiar.
3. Crank is the perfect book for health classes. Several health topics are brought up in this story: self-esteem, safe sex, smoking, drugs, and teenage pregnancy to name a few. This book can be used to start these discussion points, or as an independent study book for a health class or as a supplement to the health curriculum. Students can do research on these topics and report on them to the class.
If you have used this book with your students or in your home with your teenagers and you have more ideas, please leave them here.
If you have a suggestion for a book for me to review, please email me at email@example.com or leave a comment here.