Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published October 1, 2004
In CRANK, Ellen Hopkins chronicles the turbulent and often disturbing relationship between Kristina, a character based on her own daughter, and the “monster,” the highly addictive drug crystal meth, or “crank.” Kristina is introduced to the drug while visiting her largely absent and ne’er-do-well father. While under the influence of the monster, Kristina discovers her sexy alter-ego, Bree: “there is no perfect daughter, / no gifted high school junior, / no Kristina Georgia Snow. / There is only Bree.” Bree will do all the things good girl Kristina won’t, including attracting the attention of dangerous boys who can provide her with a steady flow of crank.
CRANK is the story of Kristina Snow and the summer that changes her life, when she goes to visit her father and meets the “monster”, Crystal Meth. Ellen Hopkins captures the turmoil and grip of addiction in a raw, authentic manner as she tells the story of a girl caught in the same kind of addiction her own daughter has battled.
The entire story is told in verse. Each poem captures the story in vivid detail. They flow from scene to scene very smoothly, capturing the raw emotion of the heroine– her desperation, heartache– and the downward spiral of her addiction to Meth. What a really powerful read.
This is the first novel in verse that I’ve ever read. I think the thing that stands out to me is how starkly each scene is portrayed, even though it’s told in shorter lines of poetry rather than paragraphs of prose. It’s pretty amazing to me how Ellen Hopkins paints such vivid pictures with her words and draws us into the stories of people we might overlook or judge in real life.
Update 12/5/2022: If you liked WRECKED by Heather Henson, add CRANK to your reading list.
Content warning for drug use and rape.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme word choice, moderate frequency.
Kristina has some sexual experiences in the story. In one scene, her boyfriend rapes her. Both scenes are short and don’t really give a whole “play by play” account, but leave the reader with no doubt of what has occurred.
A boyfriend rapes Kristina. She licks blood from her arm in one scene.
Kristina experiments with meth and other drugs and wrestles with addiction throughout the story. Several scenes depict her using drugs.