Crank, p.18
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       Crank, p.18

         Part #1 of Crank series by Ellen Hopkins
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  new baby, crying inside?

  I told you then, the monster

  is a way of life, one it’s

  difficult to leave behind,

  no matter how hard you try.

  I have tried, really I have.

  Maybe if Chase had stayed

  with me, instead of running

  off to California, in search

  of his dreams. Then again,

  I told him to go.

  Maybe if I had dreams

  of my own to run off in

  search of. I did once.

  But now I have no plans

  for a perfect tomorrow.

  All I have is today.

  T for Today

  I’d really like to tell you I have a nice little place with

  a white picket fence, flowers in the garden, and Winnie-

  the-Pooh, Eeyore, and Tigger, too, on baby blue nursery

  walls. I’d like to inform you that I am on a fast track to

  a college degree and a career in computer animation—

  something I’ve aimed for, ever since I found out I could

  draw. I’d love to let

  you know I left the

  monster screaming

  in my dust, shut my

  ears, scrambled back

  to my family, back to

  my baby, my heart. I

  could tell you those

  things, but they’d be

  lies—nothing new for

  me, true. But if all I

  wrote was lies, you

  wouldn’t really know

  my story. I want you

  to know. Not a day

  passes when I don’t

  think about getting

  high. Strung. Getting

  out of this deep well

  of monotony I’m

  slowly drowning in.

  Be sure to read

  Ellen Hopkins’s


  Perfect is the story of four high school seniors, all of whom have friends, siblings, and a drive to attain “perfection.” They each have very different goals, and very different ways of achieving them. Meet Cara, whose parents’ unrealistic expectations have already sent her twin brother spiraling toward suicide; Kendra, a pageant girl who stops at nothing in her pursuit of runway modeling; Sean, who uses whatever means necessary to win a baseball scholarship; and Andre, whose real talent seems destined to languish. Just how far does someone have to go to be perfect?

  Cara Sierra Sykes



  do you define a word without

  concrete meaning? To each

  his own, the saying goes, so


  push to attain an ideal

  state of being that no two

  random people will agree is


  you want to be? Faultless.

  Finished. Incomparable. People

  can never be these, and anyway


  did creating a flawless facade

  become a more vital goal

  than learning to love the person


  lives inside your skin?

  The outside belongs to others.

  Only you should decide for you—


  is perfect.


  I’ve lived with the pretense

  of perfection for seventeen

  years. Give my room a cursory

  inspection, you’d think I have OCD.

  But it’s only habit and not

  obsession that keeps it all orderly.

  Of course, I don’t want to give

  the impression that it’s all up to me.

  Most of the heavy labor is done by

  our housekeeper, Gwen. She’s an

  imposing woman, not at all the type

  that most men would find attractive.

  Not even Conner, which is the point.

  My twin has a taste for older

  women. Before he got himself

  locked away, he chased after more

  than one. I should have told sooner

  about the one he caught, the one

  I happened to overhear him with,

  having a little afternoon fun.

  Okay, I know a psychologist

  would say, strictly speaking,

  he was prey, not predator.

  And, in a way, I can’t really

  blame him. Emily is simply

  stunning. Conner wasn’t the only

  one who used to watch her go

  running by our house every

  morning. But, hello, she was

  his teacher. That fact alone

  should have been enough warning

  that things would not turn out well.

  I never would have expected

  Conner to attempt the coward’s way

  out, though. Some consider suicide

  an act of honor. I seriously don’t agree.

  But even if it were, you’d have to

  get it right. All Conner did was

  stain Mom’s new white Berber

  carpet. They’re replacing it now.

  Kendra Melody Mathieson


  That’s what I am, I guess.

  I mean, people have been telling

  me that’s what I am since

  I was two. Maybe younger.


  as a picture. (Who wants

  to be a cliché?) Pretty as

  an angel. (Can you see them?)

  Pretty as a butterfly. (But


  that really just a glam bug?)

  Cliché, invisible, or insectlike,

  I grew up knowing I was

  pretty and believing everything


  about me had to do with how

  I looked. The mirror was my best

  friend. Until it started telling

  me I wasn’t really pretty


  Pale Beauty

  That’s what my mom calls the gift

  she gave me, through genetics.

  We are Scandinavian willows,

  with vanilla hair and glacier blue

  eyes and bone china skin. Two

  hours in the sun turns me the color

  of ripe watermelon. When I lead

  cheers at football games, it is wearing

  SPF 60 sunblock. Gross. Basketball

  season is better, but I’ll be glad

  when it’s over. Between dance lessons

  and vocal training and helping out

  at the food bank (all grooming for Miss

  Teen Nevada), I barely have time for

  homework, let alone fun. At least

  staying busy mostly keeps my mind

  off Conner. I wish I could forget

  about him, but that’s not possible.

  I tumbled hard for that guy. Gave him

  all of me. I thought we had something

  special. He even let me see the scared

  little boy inside him, the one not many

  other people ever catch a glimpse of.

  I wonder if he showed that boy to

  the ambulance drivers who took him to

  the hospital, or to the doctors and nurses

  who dug the bullet out of his chest. Sewed

  him up. Saved his life. I want to see him, but

  Cara says he can’t have visitors. Bet he doesn’t

  want them—scared he might look helpless.

  Sean Terrence O’Connell


  Don’t like that word.

  Not tough enough to describe

  a weight-sculpted body.


  is better. Like a builder

  frames a house,

  constructing its skeleton



  two-by-four, a real

lete shapes himself

  muscle group by muscle

  group, ignoring the


  Focused completely on

  the gain. It can’t happen

  overnight. It takes hours

  every single day


  no one can force you to

  do it. Becoming the best

  takes a shitload of inborn



  That’s what it takes to reach

  the top, and that is where

  I’ve set my sights. Second

  best means you lose. Period.

  I will be the best damn first

  baseman ever in the league.

  My dad was a total baseball

  freak (weird, considering

  he coached football), and

  when I was a kid, he went

  on and on about McGwire

  being the first base king.

  I grew up wanting to be

  first base royalty. T-ball,

  then years of Little League,

  gave me the skills I need.

  But earning that crown

  demands more than skill.

  What it requires are arms

  like Mark McGwire’s.

  I Play Football, Too

  Kind of a tribute to Dad.

  But, while I’m an okay

  safety, my real talent

  is at the bat. I’ll use

  it to get into Stanford.

  The school’s got a great

  program. But even if

  it didn’t, it would be

  at the top of my university

  wish list because Cara will

  go there, I’m sure. She says

  it isn’t a lock, but that’s bull.

  Her parents are both alumni,

  and her father has plenty of

  pull. Money. And connections.

  Uncle Jeff has connections, too,

  and there will be Stanford

  scouts at some random (or

  maybe not so) game. I have

  to play brilliantly every time.

  Andre Marcus Kane III


  Give most girls a way

  to describe me, that’s what

  they’d say—that Andre

  Marcus Kane the third is


  I struggle daily to maintain

  the pretense. Why must it be

  expected—no, demanded—of


  to surpass my ancestors’

  achievements? Why

  can’t I just be a regular

  seventeen-year-old, trying to


  sense of life? But my path

  has been preordained,

  without anyone even asking


  what I want. Nobody seems

  to care that with every push

  to live up to their expectations,

  my own dreams


  Don’t Get Me Wrong

  I do understand my parents wanting only

  the best for me.

  Am one hundred percent tuned to the concept

  that life is a hell of a lot more enjoyable

  fun with a fast-

  flowing stream of money carrying you

  along. I like driving a pricey car, wearing

  clothes that feel

  like they want to be next to my skin.

  I love not having to be a living, breathing

  stereotype because

  of my color. Anytime I happen to think

  about it, I am grateful to my grandparents

  for their vision.

  Grateful to my mom for her smarts,

  to my father for his bald ambition,

  and, yes, greed.

  Not to mention unreal intuition.

  My Grandfather

  Andre Marcus Kane Sr. embraced

  the color of his skin,

  refused to let it straitjacket

  him. He grew up in the urban

  California nightmare

  called Oakland, with its rutted

  asphalt and crumbling cement

  and frozen dreams,

  all within sight of hillside mansions.

  I’d look up at those houses, he told

  me more than once,

  and think to myself, no reason why

  that can’t be me, living up there.

  No reason at all,

  except getting sucked down into

  the swamp. Meaning welfare or the drug

  trade or even the cliché

  idea that sports were the only way out.



  Ellen Hopkins, Crank

  (Series: Crank # 1)


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