R.I.P. Whitney Houston: Why We Need Authors Like Ellen Hopkins
February 13, 2012 in Helping Girls and Women Around the World, High School Teachers, Hopkins, Ellen, Middle School Teachers, Young Adult Novels Tags: books about drugs and alcohol, Crank, Ellen Hopkins, young adult books
I had my picture book all ready for today’s post, along with my three activities. But I can’t let this time pass without talking about the tragedy of Whitney Houston’s death. It’s on a lot of people’s minds–especially those of us who grew up in the 80s and then saw The Bodyguard over and over again in 1992. My very first concert on my own with my best friend, Kristin, was Whitney at The Muny (outdoor theater in Forest Park) in St. Louis, MO in 1985, right before we started high school. We had to leave before the concert was over because Whitney liked to really add to her songs–extending each one with all sorts of runs and musical interludes. So, she was still playing and we were running to the front of The Muny to be picked up by our parents because we were too young to even drive to the concert.
If you are a girl of the 80s, you know you sang, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” and thought of the cute guy in your homeroom. . .
So what’s YA author Ellen Hopkins have to do with Whitney Houston? It hasn’t been confirmed yet how Whitney died, but it is probably going to have something to do with substance abuse. She either mixed something or took too much of something or weakened her body from years of abuse. She had a wonderful talent, a family that loved her, a beautiful child, and she STILL couldn’t find power over drugs. If anyone knows how drugs can affect lives, it’s Ellen Hopkins.
If you aren’t familiar with her books: Crank, Glass, Fallout, they are loosely based on her daughter’s crystal meth addiction. Here’s what she says on her website, “By writing the story from ‘my daughter’s’ perspective, I learned a lot, both about her, and about myself. But I also learned a lot about the nature of addiction, and the physiology of this particular substance. For those struggling with similar addictions, there is help, but the road to recovery is not easy. The addict has to want to get well. Rehabilitation cannot be forced. For those who love someone struggling with addiction, learn as much as you can about
how a substance works on the brain. This will help divorce you from the overwhelming emotion involved.”
Look for sources of drug addiction support online and offline to help your loved one.
Ellen Hopkins’s Crank series of books are powerful. They are written in verse, and they are real. They do not paint a pretty picture of addiction. They’re often banned in close-minded communities, where people don’t want to admit that kids as young as elementary school are involved with drugs and in sexual situations. I believe ALL 8th graders should read these books, maybe even younger–required reading to see what drugs are really like and to see the mess that they can create in your life. We should tell kids about the REAL reason we no longer have talents like Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, and Whitney. They need to know what is going on and how drugs can literally take away your life.
If we start looking at the problem realistically, maybe we can save a few talents, like Whitney. We have to start protecting our children in a different way by educating them on how the “big, bad world” really works.
Thank you, Ellen Hopkins, for the work you do.
R.I.P. Whitney Houston