cover image for CrankHopkins, Ellen. (2004) Crank. New York, NY: Simon Pulse.

Plot Summary:

When Kristina leaves home to try to reconnect with her absentee father, she first stumbles across love…and then meth.  Eventually Kristina has to go home and leave the boy behind, but the addiction stays with her.  Kristina tries to it together and keep her secrets hidden, but piece by piece her formerly perfect life begins falling to pieces.

Critical Evaluation:

Hopkins’ poetry is not perfect by any means, but the disjointed free verse works well for the story being told, often mirroring Kristina/Bree’s fractured sense of self and loss of control.  The story itself is compelling – when it sticks to Kristina’s interactions with her peers.  Unfortunately, I could not get past the part where Hopkins is writing about a story similar to that of her daughter’s real life experiences – and doing so in the first person.  It’s a disturbing example of co-opting another person’s experiences for your own needs and, considering that the person in question is a minor that was under your care at the time, rather silencing as well.  I’m sure Hopkins feels as though she is giving a voice where one is needed, but her skewed focus is readily apparent during the times when Kristina contemplates her relationship with her mother.  In general, the dynamic leaves me questioning the entire narrative.

Reader’s Annotation:

When Kristina leaves home to try to reconnect with her absentee father, she first stumbles across love…and then meth.

Author Information:



Realistic fiction

Booktalking Ideas:

The only time I would booktalk this book was if I was given a choice between it an Go Ask Alice.  I will provide it to teens that ask for it and books like it, and ensure its place in my collection, but I will not tell kids to go read it.

Reading Level/Target Age:

6th grade/14-19

Potential Controversy:

Crank is frequently challenged because it includes drug use, profanity, sex, rape, violence, and illegal activities.  Despite my misgivings about this book in particular, I believe these are all topics that should be available for teens to read about.  Hopkins is clearly trying to warn kids off of drug use in particular, however, and that should help bolster the freedom to read arguments.

Reasons for Choosing This Title:

This is such a popular title among teens that I would feel remiss if I did not eventually get around to at least trying it.