As always, this is not a book report. Rather, it is an opportunity to discuss some of the themes that stuck with me while reading “Crank” by Ellen Hopkins.
Hell of a Drug
I am a product of the 80’s. I grew up with “Just Say No,” D.A.R.E., and the War on Drugs. Throughout elementary school, my classmates and I were brainwashed with these messages. Our televisions were filled with images of eggs frying in skillets and the harm of drugs. For the most part, these messages worked on me. I avoided drugs all throughout high school. The first time I saw cocaine was in college. I immediately left the party. I didn’t experience marijuana until I was a senior. When I did, my opinion totally changed. Now, I live in a state where recreational use is legal. So, popular opinion is obviously changing.
Throughout all of this, the one message that was cemented in my mind was this idea of being in control. I avoided heavy drugs because I didn’t want to relinquish control. Reading a book such as this just reinforces that message for me.
To read this book is to bear witness to a teenage girl with a split personality. On one hand, she is your average American teenager focused on friends, school, and getting into a good college. On the other hand, she abuses drugs, steals, lies, constantly pushes boundaries, and makes choices that put her in compromising positions. I think unless you have ever found yourself addicted to something like cocaine, crack, meth, heroin, etc. you cannot fully understand what it feels like to be two people at once. This book, better than any I have ever read, put me closer to understanding what this split feels like.
Poetry as a Story
I have read several collections of poems, but I have never read a collection of poems pulled together to tell one story. I know these books are out there but for the life of me I cannot conjure up a reason for my avoiding them. This book inspired me to change that.
If you are reading this, comment below with some other books of poetry I should read. I am really excited about the thought of digging deeper and experiencing stories in a different way.
She’s Gone Forever
As this book marches forward, the writing seems to be on the wall. With every turn of the page, you come to a pretty good idea of how this thing is going to end. As you watch the collection of pages at the end draw smaller, a sadness begins to wash over you. In our lead character, you see so much potential. You see someone who could make a profound impact on the people and places around her. You grow frustrated with each decision she makes because you hope better for her. I have been around addicts. I have watched them waste away. This book perfectly captures the agony of watching someone turn away from their potential and promise.
A New Life
I read books such as this one in hopes of garnering some knowledge I can capture for myself and those who follow in my footsteps. In many ways, “Just Say No” worked. In many ways, the War on Drugs was an abysmal failure that wasted money, tore apart families, and unfairly targeted minorities in poor communities only to create a prison-industrial complex in this country. Yet, I have witnessed what drugs can do to a family. From here, all I can do is share these stories and hope that our society moves away from punishing people for their addictions to a place where we help people take control of their lives.
Be good to each other,
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