Crank, p.17
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       Crank, p.17
 

         Part #1 of Crank series by Ellen Hopkins
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  5) Scott’s losing his anger

  long enough to teach

  me to drive. Getting

  my driver’s license when

  Grandma left me her

  obnoxious (but mint) ’75 LTD.

  4) Jake, sharing his Internet

  research on fetal

  development. Did you

  know that a fertilized

  egg, 36 hours old, is

  the size of a pinhead?

  3) Sorting through 35,000 names

  in the Dummy’s Guide to

  Naming Your Baby,

  opting for the strong,

  masculine moniker

  Hunter Seth.

  2) Epidurals. I meant to do

  Lamaze, really I did,

  but I managed to miss

  most of the classes.

  Here’s to labor, without

  unimaginable pain!

  And …

  The #1 Best Thing

  about those seven months:

  Holding

  my baby for the first time,

  knowing just how to do it.

  Thinking

  his red, scrunched-up face

  was really quite handsome.

  Unwrapping

  the blanket to count fingers,

  eyes, ears, and toes,

  Finding

  all twenty-four, precisely

  where they ought to be.

  Crying

  because suddenly,

  for the first time

  in a very long time,

  everything felt right.

  Lows

  10) Morning sickness. Puking

  my guts out as soon

  as I lifted my head

  from the pillow, each

  and every day

  for weeks and weeks.

  9) Listening to Mom and Scott

  argue. About me.

  About the baby.

  About the odds

  of it being some

  sort of freak.

  8) Trying to quit tobacco

  after learning how

  every puff made

  my baby’s heart

  stop beating. How

  could I be so hooked?

  7) Going to school (before

  my “condition” became

  obvious) an outsider.

  Knowing my old

  friends and I had lost

  all common ground.

  6) Boredom. The succession

  of little-to-do

  days, stretching

  longer and longer

  toward the longest

  day of the year.

  5) Long letters from Chase.

  USC was great.

  The football team

  was great. Los

  Angeles was great.

  Great enough

  to call it home.

  4) My dad’s silence. He did call

  once, to confirm Linda

  Sue’s tale. Then not

  a word, as if not talking

  about it could make

  the “problem” disappear.

  3) Losing Grandma, just when

  I’d found her again.

  A waterfall of flowers

  brightened her funeral,

  but they couldn’t disguise

  the stench of death.

  2) My water breaking, mid-Walmart…

  Contractions,

  uterine lightning

  bolts, striking

  immediately

  and not letting

  up for 18 hours.

  And …

  The #1 Worst Thing

  about those seven months:

  My steady, needful, forever

  relationship with the monster.

  Learning

  that “addiction” is much more

  than a buzzword.

  Discovering

  how very much it applied

  to my “me first” psyche.

  Struggling

  not to give in to inner voices

  much stronger than my own.

  Winning

  most of the time, gritting my

  teeth and “just saying no.”

  Losing

  in those moments

  when the world

  I’d created for myself

  closed in around me.

  Happy Endings

  I’d like to give you one.

  But I’m not really sure

  how this story ends myself.

  Being a mother is hard

  A lot harder than I imagined.

  My baby boy is beautiful.

  I sense an Old Soul within him.

  But he cries a lot and he

  doesn’t really sleep like a

  newborn should. No lectures,

  okay? I accept my part.

  I watch my mom with my son,

  loving him, as she must have

  loved me. She’s patient when

  he cries. She paces him to sleep.

  I wish I could be like that. But

  I’m only 17.1 feel like life is passing

  me by as I stand here on the deck,

  listening to him fuss inside.

  Sometimes I want to curl up in

  a ball and roll away. Sometimes

  I just want to die. I only know one

  thing that can make me laugh again.

  Crank is more than a drug.

  It’s a way of life. You can

  turn your back. But you can

  never really walkaway.

  The monster will forever speak

  to me. And today,

  it’s calling me out the door.

  A Reading Group Guide to Crank by Ellen Hopkins

  PREREADING QUESTIONS

  Why might teens begin using drugs like meth even though they know the dangers?

  How might drug addiction impact a family?

  What scars might drug addiction leave for generations to come?

  DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  How would you describe Bree? Is this the same way that Kristina would describe her? Where did Bree come from?

  For Kristina, what is the lure of crystal meth? What does it provide for her? What does it take away?

  Describe Kristina's mother, father, and stepfather. Are they in any way responsible for her addiction? Do you think that there's anything else they could have—or should have—done to help her?

  Why is Kristina drawn to Adam? To Chase? To Brendan? In what ways are these three similar and in what ways are they different? How does Kristina's relationship with each one affect her?

  Which boy is most harmful to her?

  Why does Kristina decide to keep her baby? What reasons might she have had for giving it up? Do you think she made the right decision?

  Why does Kristina always call crank "the monster"? How do you think her renaming of the drug affects her attitude toward it and her sense of responsibility regarding it? Are there other things or people in the story that get renamed? How does this affect the way in which they are regarded?

  Kristina sometimes refers to herself and her life before drugs as boring and worthless, yet at other times she seems to regard it as something very precious. What attitude do you think is closest to her true feelings? Do you think those around her would agree with her assessment?

  The author chose to write this story in verse. Why do you think that she chose this format? What effect does this have on how you feel about the characters and events?

  What is the overall message of this book? Do you think the story will act as a deterrent for teens who are considering drugs?

  ACTIVITIES

  As we can see in Crank, poetry allows us to express ourselves in new and creative ways. Write a poem or series of poems about something that has happened in your life

  Choose a drug—crystal meth or some other drug that you've heard of—and research its effects on the user. Find out exactly what it does in the body, how
long the side effects last, how much it typically costs, and any other pertinent facts.

  Kristina has an alter ego who allows her to be more careless and daring. What would your alter ego be like? Choose a name, list all the character traits s/he would have, and list the things that s/he could help you do. Imagine what your life would be like if you acted more like your alter ego.

  Kristina's baby, like many children of addicts, cries a lot and needs to be held more than other babies. Find out if your local hospital will allow you to volunteer to hold babies born addicted. If your community has no such programs, perhaps you could consider volunteering at a local drug clinic or an anti-drug program at your school.

  Write a short story about what you think will happen to Kristina and her baby after the events depicted in the book.

  There are several other books about teenage drug addiction, including Go Ask Alice and Smack. Read one of these other books and compare it to Crank.

  Crank guide written by Cory Grimminck, Director, Hillsdale Community Library, Hillsdale, MI.

  Find out what happens to Kristina

  next in Ellen Hopkins’s

  Walking with the Monster

  Life

  was radical

  right after I met

  the monster.

  Later, life

  became

  harder,

  complicated.

  Ultimately,

  a living

  hell,

  like swimming

  against a riptide,

  walking

  the wrong

  direction in the fast

  lane of the freeway,

  waking

  from sweetest

  dreams to find yourself

  in the middle of a

  nightmare.

  You Know My Story

  Don’t you? All about

  my dive

  into the lair of the monster

  drug some people call crank.

  Crystal. Tina. Ice.

  How a summer visit

  to my dad sent me

  into

  the arms of a boy—a

  hot-bodied hunk, my

  very first love, who led

  me down the path to

  insanity.

  How I came home

  no longer

  Kristina Georgia

  Snow, gifted high

  school junior, total

  dweeb, and

  perfect

  daughter, but

  instead a stranger

  who called herself Bree.

  How, no matter

  how hard

  Kristina

  fought her, Bree

  was stronger, brighter,

  better equipped to deal

  with a world where

  everything moved at light

  speed, everyone mired

  in ego. Where “everyday”

  became

  another word

  for making love with

  the monster.

  It Wasn’t a Long Process

  I went to my dad’s in June, met Adam

  the very first day. It took some time

  to pry him from his girlfriend’s grasp.

  But within two weeks, he introduced

  me to the monster. One time was all

  it took to want more. It’s a roller-

  coaster ride. Catch the downhill

  thrill, you want to ride again,

  enough to endure the long,

  hard climb back up again.

  In days, I was hooked on

  Adam, tobacco, and meth,

  in no particular order. But

  all summer vacations must

  end. I had to come home to

  Reno. And all my new bad

  habits came with me. It was

  a hella speed bump, oh yeah.

  Until I hurt for it, I believed

  I could leave the crystal behind.

  But the crash-and-burn was more

  than I could take. When the jet landed,

  I was still buzzed from a good-bye binge.

  My family crowded round me at the airport,

  discussing summer plans and celebration dinners,

  and all I wanted to do was skip off for another snort.

  Mom kept trying to feed me. My stepfather, Scott, kept

  trying to ask questions about my visit with Dad. My

  big sister, Leigh, wanted to talk about her new girlfriend,

  and my little brother, Jake, kept going on about soccer.

  It didn’t take long to figure out I was in serious trouble.

  Not the Kind of Trouble

  You might think I’m

  talking about. I was pretty

  sure I could get away with

  B.S.ing Mom and Scott.

  I’d always been such a good

  girl, they wouldn’t make the

  jump to “bad” too quickly.

  Especially not if I stayed cool.

  I wasn’t worried about

  getting busted at school

  or on the street. I’d only just

  begun my walk with the monster.

  I still had meat on my bones,

  the teeth still looked good.

  I didn’t stutter yet. My mouth

  could still keep up with my brain.

  No, the main thing I worried

  about was how I could score

  there, at home. I’d never even

  experimented with pot, let alone

  meth. Where could I go?

  Who could I trust with my

  money, my secrets? I couldn’t

  ask Leigh. She was the prettiest

  lesbian you’ve ever seen. But

  to my knowledge she had

  never used anything stronger

  than a hearty glass of wine.

  Not Sarah, my best friend since

  fourth grade, or any of my

  old crowd, all of whom lived by

  the code of the D.A.R.E. pledge.

  I really didn’t need to worry,

  of course. All I had to do

  was leave things up to Bree,

  the goddess of persuasion.

  Before I Continue

  I just want to remind you

  that turning into Bree

  was a conscious decision

  on my part. I never really

  liked Kristina that much.

  Oh, some things about her

  were pretty cool—how she

  was loyal to her family

  and friends. How she loved

  easily. How she was good

  at any and all things artistic.

  But she was such a brain,

  with no sense of fashion

  or any idea how to have fun.

  So when fun presented

  itself, I decided someone

  new would have to take charge.

  That someone was Bree.

  I chose her name (not sure where

  I got it), chose when to become her.

  What I didn’t expect was discovering

  she had always been there, inside of me.

  How could Kristina and Bree

  live inside of one person?

  How could two such different halves

  make up the whole of me?

  How could Bree have possibly survived,

  stuck in Kristina’s daily existence?

  The Funny Thing Was

  Bree solved the meth dilemma on a family

  trip to Wild Waters, Scott’s annual

  company picnic. Sarah came

  along to spend time with

  Kristina. But Bree

  had other things

  in mind.

  The first was

  a truly gorgeous

  lifeguard. Turned out

  Brendan wasn’t so pretty

  on the inside, but even Bree, who

  thrived on intuition, was cluel
ess. Hard

  on the make, Brendan shared booze, cigarettes.

  But one guy wasn’t quite enough. I

  also ran into Chase Wagner that

  day. His outside wasn’t as

  attractive, but inside he

  was fine. Of course,

  I didn’t know

  that yet.

  I found out

  soon enough that

  both Chase and Brendan

  knew the score—and both

  were interested in me. Brendan

  only wanted sex; Chase offered love.

  Either way, I had my path to the monster.

  Later, I discovered that Robyn, my

  old friend Trent’s sister (not to

  mention an “in” cheerleader),

  tweaked to stay thin

  and “pep up.” She

  taught me how

  to smoke it.

  It didn’t take

  long to immerse

  myself in the lifestyle.

  Didn’t take long for school

  to go to shit; for friendships and

  dedication to family to falter. Didn’t

  take long to become a slave to the monster.

  My Mom and Stepfather

  Tried to stop me before

  it all went completely wrong.

  Kristina spent almost a whole

  year GUFN—grounded

  until further notice.

  But Bree was really good

  at prying open windows

  at night, lying with a straight

  face, denying she had

  slipped so far downhill.

  Nothing slowed me down.

  Not losing my virginity

  to Brendan’s rape. Not

  spending a few days

  in juvenile hall.

  The only thing that kept

  me sane was Chase’s love,

  despite all I put him through.

  He even swore to love me

  when I told him I was pregnant.

  Pregnant. And Brendan

  was the father. Bree considered

  abortion. Exorcism. Kristina

  understood the baby was not

  the demon. His father was.

  But you know this part

  of the story. You followed

  me on my journey through

  the monster’s territory.

  We wound up here.

  Who am I now, three

  months after I left you,

  standing on the deck

  with me, listening to my

 
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