Thursday, December 11, 2008


Crank by Ellen Hopkins has got to be one of the best and most powerful books I've read this year. It's the story of Kristina Snow, a 17 year old junior in high school who gets good grades and has a pretty low-key life. That is, until she goes to stay with her dad for a few weeks during the summer. Although she meets a cute guy and falls in love for the first time, she also tries crank (crystal meth) and, after the first time, she's hooked. It doesn't help that her dad does the drug with her. By the time she returns to her mom's house and to her "normal" life, the damage is done and she is officially a meth addict. As her more innocent self, "Kristina" slowly begins to disappear, her more assertive self, "Bree" starts to take charge. Bree likes living life on the edge, taking risks, lying to her family, ditching her old friends, and hooking up with guys who can help her score more meth. Her life starts to go downhill fast, and what happens to her at the end will shock anyone who thinks that meth can be a harmless pasttime, something you can do without repercussions when you're young. Crank is written in free verse poetry, which makes it all the more powerful. 4 out of 4 Bananas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Give a Boy a Gun: Disturbing Yet Awesome

Mrs. Cabaj's freshman English class is reading Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser, and since I was working with them on a research project about school violence, I thought that I would read it, too. Like Stuck in Neutral (see previous post), Give a Boy a Gun is about high school students struggling with some pretty intense issues. Gary and Brendan are considered outsiders by the popular kids at school. They deal with constant bullying, especially from one of the most obnoxious football players, and often talk about how awesome it would be to slowly and painfully kill the worst offenders. Although it is highly disturbing, I really liked this book because it is told completely in flashbacks and from memories of students, teachers, administrators, friends, and family members of the two boys AFTER they took the school hostage and the town had dealt with the aftermath of their violent attack. Also, facts and statistics about gun violence and quotes from newspaper articles about real life school shootings are at the bottom of most pages. All in all, this was a fast read that spoke to an extremely serious and highly important issue facing our country today, so I'm giving it 4 out of 4 Bananas. For another author's perspective on school shootings, try Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult.