Welcome to this month’s Banned Books feature! This month Beth and I have read Crank by Ellen Hopkins.
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.
First published: 2001
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2010 (source)
Chosen by: Chrissi
Reason: drugs, offensive language and sexually explicit
Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?
BETH: This book was unlike anything I’ve ever read before and to be honest, I could understand the reasons for it being challenged when published in 2001. I admit that I am vehemently anti-drugs and although I agree whole-heartedly that there should be more education about what is out there, at points it felt like the more pleasurable parts of taking drugs was focused on. However, I thought the way it was written was incredibly unique and teaching it in a classroom could be interesting and quite challenging!
CHRISSI: Yes. I understand why this book was challenged when it was published. I’m also anti-drugs like Beth, and at some points in the book I felt incredibly uncomfortable with how it was being represented. It is SO important that there is a good level of education about the consequences of drugs, but I don’t feel like it was represented in the best way, despite it being such a unique read. I think it would take a very brave teacher to use this book in the classroom, but good on them if they do!
How about now?
BETH: Even though the book was published only fourteen years ago, I think teenagers nowadays are a lot more clued up then we give them credit for and may know a lot of facts in the novel already. Saying that, I think we do need a lot more education about the real dangers of drugs to counteract any false information or hearsay that kids have picked up from their peers. The book is written in verse and some parts were very beautiful but also very dark. I can’t imagine it being taught in classrooms but it might be a good book for teenagers to pick up outside of school hours and learn for themselves.
CHRISSI: This is a very dark book, and I do think, as Beth says, there is a lot more knowledge about drugs in the present day. Perhaps teenagers would love to explore this book. It would certainly be a challenge but could very well be worthwhile if tackled in such a way that teenagers really consider the dangers of drug use. So, to answer the question…if it is going to be used well then yes, I’d say it’s worth exploring. It just needs to be considered if the teenagers in question are mature enough to handle it.
What did you think of this book?
BETH: As I mentioned before, it’s a unique read and one I won’t forget for a while. I learned a lot that I wasn’t aware of previously (I didn’t realise I was so naive when it came to drugs, obviously I’m glad I am!). What really makes it unforgettable is that it’s based on a true story which really made it come alive for me.
CHRISSI: It was okay. It’s not something that I’d usually read and I found it quite heavy going in parts. It was unique and took a while for me to get used to, but I’m so glad I read it.
Would you recommend it?
BETH: Probably – to get a message out there!
CHRISSI: If used wisely..yes!