Since today is the start of Banned Books Week, I've decided to do today's book review on one of my favorite (recent) banned books, Crank by Ellen Hopkins. Crank was recently banned in many locations due to the drug content. Many parents didn't find the chapters within the book suitable for their teenagers. Now, I can understand if you don't believe your child is ready to read about drug abuse- it's a very intense and disturbing topic to read about- but I am not (and will never be) pro-banning books.
Crank is loosely based on Ellen Hopkins' daughter's life and her battle with drug abuse and addiction. When you read about Bree (the young main character, formally known as Kristina) stealing from her mom to help feed her self-destroying habit, you're reading about Ellen and her daughter.
Written all in poetry form, Crank was very distinguishable from the other YA books on the shelves at Books-A-Million. It was a book that stood out for me, a book that I just had to sink my teeth into. I was about thirteen when I first picked it up and I've got to tell you, it was intense, but I couldn't stop reading it. This foreign lifestyle was a complete culture shock to me, I was horrified to read that a teenager's life could so quickly go down the toilet- ...just like that.
This book is tragically beautiful...I always hesitate to put those two words in a sentence describing a book, mostly because "tragic" and "beautiful" are on two different sides of the flattering adjective scale. But I can't really think of any two more perfect words to describe Crank. It's beautifully written, but it breaks your heart, like so many other wonderful books out there. You feel for Kristina (or "Bree"), but you mainly feel for who she's affecting around her. Whose hearts she's breaking as she quickly destroys her life.
This book is pretty intense, serious and tragic, but it's incredible at the same time. It makes you think. Ellen Hopkins is a wonderful writer, a magnificent author and a beautiful human being all together. When I met her in person, I told her while she was signing my copies of Crank and Collateral, "Your books and your stories scared me away from drugs." She then nodded, smiled and said, "Good."