A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
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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.
Talk to your kids 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?
For kids who love discussing books
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