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First in controversial verse poetry series about addiction.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Educational value

Describes the strong hold of addiction, and some facts about meth, including how it "eats big holes in the brain, destroys/ the pleasure center..." Could open up some good discussions about drug use and addiction.

Positive messages

Though it is unclear at the conclusion if Kristina will be able to actually master her habit, her story is a cautionary one.  Readers who know about the book's sequel, Glass, will correctly assume her addiction continues.

Positive role models

Kristina makes some dangerous choices here -- including using drugs while she is pregnant -- but she is an honest narrator who will provide insight to readers about the temptation to do drugs -- and also what can happen once you start. She does have family members and friends who care about her.


There is a rape and another character discusses being forced into sex. While in juvenile hall, Kristina meets other inmates who are there for committing violent crimes. Also, while on drugs, Kristina cuts herself with a razor, drinks her blood, and offers it to others.


Lots of kissing, including same-sex kissing for attention, references to oral sex, and Kristina and her boyfriend have sex several times. At the end of the book, Kristina discovers she is pregnant and goes to a Planned Parenthood to learn about her options.


Some, including "f--k." Also, slang words for gay women and oral sex.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

This is a book about a girl addicted to crank, and Kristina snorts it, smokes it, and even injects it. She buys and sells -- including from a drug gang. And she smokes cigarettes, does ecstasy, smokes marijuana, and drinks coffee. Kristina does crank with her biological father.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a free verse poetry book about a teen girl's addiction to methamphetamine (also known as crank). Kristina snorts it, smokes it, and even injects it. She also buys and sells -- including from a drug gang. And she smokes cigarettes, does ecstasy, smokes marijuana, and drinks coffee. This book includes other mature material, including a rape, an unplanned pregnancy, and a scene in which a high Kristina cuts her skin and drinks her own blood. Mature readers will recognize that this is a cautionary tale describing the strong hold of addiction, and parents could use it to open up some good discussions about drug use and addiction.

What's the story?

When Kristina goes to visit her biological father, she creates a new identity for herself, calling herself Bree and trying things like crank -- which she smokes for the first time with her father and a new boyfriend. Once back home, she can't break free of Bree, or the drug she calls \"the monster.\" Her comfortable suburban life begins to disappear as she gets deeper into crank: She begins to do badly at a school, steals money from her mom, and even ends up at juvenile hall. When she discovers she is pregnant, she tries to get her life back on track. But can she really say goodbye to the monster?

Is it any good?


It's no wonder that this book has been such a hit with teen readers: The free verse makes for a fast read, and the details are full of drama. As Kristina gets deeper into drugs, she even injects crank -- and later discovers she is pregnant. But while this is a cautionary tale, this book will leave more of an imprint than an after-school special about drug abuse. Partly, this is because of the open ending in which Kristina has still not decided if she can live drug free, even with all that she now has to live for -- including a baby of her own. Parents who are concerned about the mature material might consider reading along with their teens so they can be better prepared for questions and discussions.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about this book's subject matter. Did you learn anything that surprised you about crank or drug abuse? Do you think this book will discourage kids from doing drugs?

  • Crank was number four on the American Library Associations list of most challenged books of 2010. What makes it so controversial? Who should have a right to decide what you read -- or what's in your library or school?


Book details

Author:Ellen Hopkins
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Publication date:October 1, 2004
Number of pages:544
Publisher's recommended age(s):14

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Parent Written byxraymommy2 September 4, 2011

kids not ready for this read

I have really enjoyed reading this book but I would not recommend this for my teenage children to read. The reason behind my hesitation is because the way the "monster" makes her feel is almost enticing rather than revolting.
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written byDarthVadershotsister September 11, 2011

Risque but okay for mature teens

I think this is not for children although I read this and did a report on it in the seventh grade . Kids should understand how illegal substances and reproduction work BEFORE reading this to avoid confusion and awkwardly questioning parents and teachers about the subject matter
What other families should know
Educational value
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written bynoveleater September 5, 2011

Addictive, but Terrifying series debut.

Crank is a beautifully woven story with realistic characters, but beware, the story is disturbing, and sometimes so real, it's scary. The content is not always appropriate, teens must be prepared, adults, I would read before your teen. That being said, I also think adults aren't so sure what their teen can handle. If your teen is mature and reads a lot, I am almost positive they can handle this, but it is a mature read. The book is charged with teen's sexual romances. Although it does not go into to much detail, you can clearly understand what is happening. Also, the book isn't too violent, but in one heart- breaking scene, a girl is raped, leaving her in pain. A teen gets pregnant at the end of the story, and kids take drugs, very raw and descriptions are available. Also, the language is strong, including f***, sh**, su**, a**, d***, ect. But at the heart of the story, it tells of a teen who is struggling to come to terms with the way life works, and peer pressure. The story also talks about the way families are pulled apart when one gets addicted. The story is raw, but wonderful. The story is written in free verse, making the read a faster ride. I recommend it for mature readers. Enjoy!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking