A lot of people seem to be drawn to this story because of its brutal honesty. It’s no secret: Crank is loosely based on Ellen Hopkins’ own daughter’s story. The truth melds with fiction and creates this intense, drug-addled world.
I think I can speak for everyone when I say that any parent is terrified their child will end up hanging with the wrong crowd, spending time doing the wrong things. It’s easy to say “that will never happen to me.” I think it’s unlikely Hopkins ever expected it to happen to her bright, straight-A “Kristina.”
It is a combination of two things that make this book unforgettable: the fact that it’s written from Kristina’s perspective, and that it’s written in verse. Any teenager can relate to Kristina; in high school, I was the furthest thing from what she turns into, but I could relate to her. Kristina’s insecurities and pressures, though wildly disproportionate to mine, were still relatable insecurities and pressures. Kristina wants to fit in and be loved. What about that is difficult to grasp?
Hopkins’ style of writing is conducive to attracting readers who aren’t “readers.” The content is also so widely understood that this fiction/non-fiction has encouraged millions of people worldwide to pick up the book.
It is a story that almost anyone can understand: the plain, straight-A girl meets a boy who’s trouble. He pays her attention, tells her she’s beautiful, tells her he loves her, and then applies pressure. It’s just a couple weeks of summer vacation… what could a few lines hurt?
** Spoilers ahead. **
Kristina falls victim to her insecurities when Adam comes into the picture. He promises her a life she hasn’t otherwise seen; promises to show her the other side of the way people live. She falls victim to him. I never thought I’d be able to understand a straight-A student falling this far from grace, but when I read Kristina’s story, it suddenly clicked. And that is terrifying in itself.
Kristina is exposed to some of the ugliest things because of this one summer romance. Addiction is awakened in her, she is raped, she becomes pregnant from said aforementioned rape, and after all of this, it is likely she will be lost to the monster forever.
There is something about this voice that makes me believe the monster could hold anyone hostage.
Kristina spirals. She tears through addictions, money, friends, family, and boys. What I think I like most about this story is that it teaches some of life’s hardest lessons with none of the real-life consequences. Kristina takes us along on her most intimate, devastating journey. Reading Crank is like being witness to a horrific, difficult lesson learned the hard way.
I would encourage anyone to read this book (14+), but especially high school students. Walk into Kristina’s world and realize that isn’t where you want to be. After all, the monster only makes life great… for a little while.
My full review of Ellen Hopkins’ Crank is also available on Goodreads. Have you read Crank? What did you think? Please leave a comment below (spoiler free)!