Google+ Reading Teen: Parents, would you give your kids Crank?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Parents, would you give your kids Crank?

I'm hoping that this blog post will be a discussion starter for teens and parents of teens and just people in general.  Crank is a YA/Teen book written by Ellen Hopkins, based on her daughter's life and struggle with Meth addiction.  I decided to pick it up because this book is HUGE in the middle schools right now.  So many t(w)eens are reading it (as further evidenced by the tattered condition of my library copy) that I felt like I should get informed, so I picked it up.

"Life was good
before I
              the monster
                                  was great,

                                                    for a little while."

When I started reading this book, I thought there was no way on earth that I would let my daughter (15) read this. The first half of the book is full of the excitement of drugs, language, sexual references/content/innuendo/experimentation, and even though you see the path of destruction that Kristina/Bree is on, the danger of it all is exciting.  I don't know why destructive behavior is so attractive to some people, especially teens (or I should say it was to me as a teen), even when they see the ramifications played out in someone else's life, but it is.  Maybe because they never believe the consequences will find them.

     "And it occurred to me                    for one uneasy moment
           that every move I had         made lately might have
                                  started a landslide."

I know that it is supposed to be "real" so that kids will relate.  But how can I introduce my daughter to this world?  You may be thinking, "You're so naive....she already knows about it!" but she doesn't.  At least not in the kind of detail that Crank provides.  HOWEVER.....

I kept reading.  The second half of the book is absolutely loaded with the consequences of a life on drugs.  Kristina's life spirals out of control.  Her need for "the monster" leads to more drugs, which leads to theft, juvenile detention, alienation of family and friends, failing in school, cutting and drinking blood, hating herself, rape, and eventually pregnancy and having to make the choice of whether or not to keep her baby.  I found myself thinking about Kristina, and what may have happened to her if she had come across this book when she was a teen.  Would it have saved her?  I think that is the hope of the author ("Kristina's" mother).

There are so many teens out there struggling with the things in this book.  If just one of them picks up Crank and sees that there is hope, than this book has done it's job.  I'd also recommend it to parents that are wanting to know what life can be like for teens.  If your teen is reading this, you as a parent should be reading it too.  There are so many things that you can talk about with your teen after reading this book, and if they are being introduced to this world of drugs, sex, and destruction, it shouldn't be alone.

So, I guess the bottom line is that I'm torn.  I wish I could pass this on to my daughter, so that we could use it as a discussion starter, but there's just too much graphic detail about sex etc. for me to feel comfortable.  But, I do understand that being so graphic helps people to understand just what an enormous impact that using drugs can have on your life.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this book!  Were the graphic details necessary, or could the same point be made without such detail?

If you're a teen, have you read Crank?  What did you think?  Do you know anyone going through these things?

If you're a parent, would you give your teen Crank?  At what age?  Have you read it?


Looking for help?

If you'd like to know more details about the content, go to Crank on Parental Book Reviews.


  1. This is good to know. I think you bring up the subject that as moms we can be reading this books. They are not just for our kids. In fact we should be reading these books. They can give us a look into what is going on in schools today. And, like you said can be a starter for conversation with them. I will note the name of this one!

  2. My daughter is 9 and too young to understnad some of this but I am going to be checking this out and reading it myself. She won't be too young to understnad forever and this will prepare me! Thanks for the post!

    Im your newest follower from Follw Me Friday!

  3. I'm surprised to know such young kids are being pushed to read this. I took a class on teaching YA and Crank was intended for highschoolers. Found your blog at the Book Hop. Now following! Check out my blog if you like.

  4. This is still on my TBR but as a parent (though my children are still very small) I would have a hard time having my teen read it. I say that having NOT read it yet. But I read Ballads of Suburbia and it's along the same lines. I think that it talks about the normalcy of doing drugs and it shouldn't really be 'normal' even though it is. As a teen I knew what drugs could do to you, but I didn't care. Reading this would have just been some great entertainment for me and not kept ME from doing them. Luckily I saw the light before I was too deep. Hopefully this book won't be read like that by teens and that it will keep them from doing drugs. I hope I get my hands on a copy soon.
    Found you on the blog hop!

  5. I'm a teen and I also heard Ms. Hopkins speak at a writers conference. While I appreciate that this book has an audience, I'm not it.

    I don't have these problems and the whole teenage angst/drug/sex/alcohol doesn't appeal to me. Should kids read it? I don't know. If it can resonate with some, that's great. I don't think reading a book like this will make a kid go into that world.

    I'm just a big believer that parents should take an interest in what their kids are reading and be happy to discuss anything. Sounds like your daughter would be fine because you take and interest. But it may not be of interest to her at all. Perhaps, it isn't something she's ready for right now. And perhaps like me, she's just happy to read for some fun entertainment, not this dark, angst, message stuff.

    You can't go wrong talking to her about it!

    By the way, came over from the Hop! Great discussion!

  6. Great Post! I appreciate your thoughts. I haven't read Crank but I would like to. i really respect Hopkins for writng about really hard issues.
    BTW found you through the Book Hop.
    Have a great weekend.

  7. Stopping by from SITS. My son is now 24, but I still want to read book. I can completely understand why you'd be on the fence. I think it's probably good to wait some if you not sure before letting her read it.

  8. Honestly speaking, i feel your sentiments. I would be apprehensive to let my teen read something that might be too graphical for her. But then again, our teens might already know about some of these issues but are too shy to open up to us. Maybe this will be a good avenue to discuss to them the disadvantages of premarital sex and drugs for their health and future.
    I guess it wouldn't be a bad idea to let them read the book, just as long as you explain to them if they understood what lessons the book should teach them.

  9. I first read that book when I was 12. It sounds very young, but I understood everything and a few of my friends read it too, most 12 year olds are more mature that their parents think. Crank was at our school library and I was suprised it was at our school. I knew I never was going to do drugs but after reading it, it made sure I didn't want too.

    1. That's awesome that you made that decision! I know that kids, even at 12, are having to deal with a lot more than they should even have to! It sounds like this book had a really positive impact on you! Thanks for sharing!

  10. I am a mother of 4. 2 girls ages 12 & 13 and 2 boys ages 9 & 7. I'm not the typical mother. I am honest and real with my kids because the world is a dangerous place for uneducated people. I pray they remain innocent for as long as possible but without open communication with their parents and the knowledge of what's out there they can and will make bad choices. Especially if they learn this stuff from peers instead of us. After all if they cant trust us to be real and honest why should we expect it from them. I read Crank and all the rest to follow a few years ago. I loved it! And now my oldest has asked to read it. My reply was "yes but after we talk about it and as long as you understand the purpose of the book."
    What patents need to try to understand is society is already educating our kids. Just listen to the radio. The song Blow My Whistle? Seriously 9 year olds are singing it and don't grasp what it is really saying. We checked out a book over the summer that was far more sexually detailed than anything in the teenage section should be. After discussing it my daughter chose not to read it. She made that choice based off of our conversation. See? Children armed with open minded parents, real life talks and knowledge will make good choices. Its not necessarily only a child's age that matters here but our relationship with them.

    1. I completely agree with everything you're saying. You sound like a great mom! I think that so many parents try to do what's right, but never take the time to actually talk with their kids about these things. And like you said, they're eventually going to hear it (and probably inaccurately), so it's best if you have an open dialog.

  11. I am a huge Ellen Hopkins fan. Crank is the first of three books. I was 15 when I began reading her books. Yes, at first Crank portrays drugs as being innocent and just plain wonderful. (I would never do drugs) But the book made me think "Well why not, they seem amazing!" Yes, I knew otherwise. But once I read the next book in the series, Glass, I seen Kristina/bree's life spiral even further down than in Crank. I believe that these books give a good insight to what that kind of life truly is. Ellen Hopkins encourages everyone to read her daughters real life story. I had my mother read these books after I did, and she shared the same views. Yes, I do think it would be slightly unnerving to allow your children to read these books, but in a way it sure would scare them to stay clear of any of these activities! I am 18 now and Ellen Hopkins has definitely aided my staying on the right track through her writings. Every single one of her books are worth reading!

    1. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your story! It's nice to have the perspective of someone who actually went through this! :D

      I haven't picked up her other books, always so many on the TBR list, but I definitely will now!

    2. this book is deadly im loving it:)

    3. I was kidding :) Wrong thing

  12. This book is so amazing. I could say that this book is one of the best books I read. :D

  13. I think that this book sounds awesome but never read it..

  14. Read all three books loved them all too!!! Was so excited to read that there's some hope for Kristina. As a teen I think that there was just the right amount of graphic detail. I don't think it would be as good if there wasn't. After all a picture is worth a thousand words and there were definitely more then a thousand words in all three books. When I do become a parent, I think I would introduce this book to my child around the age of 13. Just when they are starting to learn about sex, drugs, and all that stuff that the books had covered. I think that these books could be a great way to help stop drug abuse and in a way think about what might happen if they have sex and get someone pregnant or get pregnant. I'm trying to get my boyfriend to read them and he says he will get to them, but if not when he gets free time I'm going to put the book in his hands and tell him to read it... Seriously though if you've never read these books do so soon.. They will give you excitement, thrill, and thoughts about the future and what might be in store for you and your kids (if you have any) ;)... Happy reading!!!

    1. I keep meaning to read the other books she's written, but I'm not a huge contemp reader, so I just don't think about it very often. I'm glad you loved them! Tell your boyfriend that they're really easy reads, and he'll get through them quickly! :D


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