Crank, by Ellen Hopkins

Three stars, read in 2010 for Banned Books Week.

I keep having to give this book a numerical rating, and I don’t really know how to. I was fascinated, but I didn’t like it; I read it in probably two or three hours, partially because it’s written in verse with only a few sentences per page, and partially because there was a morbid curiosity that, more than once, made me hover by the couch and turn several more pages after I’d already stood up to go to the kitchen, the bathroom, wherever.

Because I am laughably ignorant in the realm of drug slang, I did not know what Crank was about before I started reading. In case you don’t either, “crank” is meth, and the book is about a girl named Kristina who starts using it. It’s reminiscient of Go Ask Alice, except that (1) this book actually is based on a true story (the author’s daughter), and (2) Kristina’s meeting of “the monster” is fully voluntary.

Crank has a deceptively comfortable ending if you don’t know that there are sequels (which I didn’t until I started this post. There are spoilers in the descriptions, but then again, there’s a pretty big spoiler in the author’s note right at the beginning of the book… And anyway let’s be honest—knowing that the book is about teen drug use, there isn’t really a lot of mystery in where it’s going to begin with). But I’m certainly considering picking up Glass the next time I’m at the library.

“Some call my books edgy; others say they’re dark. They do explore tough subject matter – addiction, abuse, thoughts of suicide, teen prostitution. But they bring young adult readers a middle-aged author’s broader perspective. They show outcomes to choices, offer understanding. And each is infused with hope. I don’t sugarcoat, but neither is the content gratuitous. Something would-be censors could only know if they’d actually read the books rather than skimming for dirty words or sexual content.”

—Ellen Hopkins

Published 2004. Fourth most challenged book in 2010. Reasons challenged: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit.

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