Banned Books Week: CRANK

Book cover for Crank. Black background with title in white letters.Crank
Ellen Hopkins

I I realize it’s Thursday of Banned Books Week and I still haven’t posted a review of a banned book, despite pledging to do so. Bad blogger. Well, here goes:

I read Crank a couple weeks ago when I was traveling. I pulled it out on my plane ride, and despite not really loving the book, finished about half of it by the time we landed. The book is nearly 500 pages long, but those pages are covered in free verse, leaving quite a bit of white space.

Number one: I was not a fan of this format. It didn’t feel like a book told in poems, but more like an outline of a book.

Number two: Lots of banned books are great books. This one… not so much.

The book is about a teenage girl who gets hooked on meth/crank/the monster. It’s based on the experiences of the author’s daughter. Spoilers Ahead: It’s rather juvenile and heavy handed in a way that I didn’t care for. Mom likes the beautiful lifeguard boyfriend who turns out to be a rapist and heavy drug user, while not being impressed with the “ugly” nice guy who trys to keep his drug use under control. There’s this whole “thank you for honoring your child” line that read as total BS when it turns out that the protaganist is pregnant by her rapist. Why is so difficult to portray abortion as a viable choice for a teenage meth addict who continues to intermittently use even after she finds out she’s pregnant? /End Spoilers.

Might it be valuable to show teenagers the dangers of trying meth? Sure. Do I think it should be banned? No. Do I think it’s a fine piece of literature? No.

Further Reading: Check out this interesting Mother Jones article about how Big Pharma is keeping meth cookers in business: Merchants of Meth.


5 thoughts on “Banned Books Week: CRANK

  1. Great review! This really made me laugh: “Lots of banned books are great books. This one… not so much.” To some, the fact that a book was challenged/banned is an indicator of high quality when that isn’t necessarily the case.

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