Based on a real-life event and written in verse, this novel relates the disturbing story of one girl's descent into addiction.
Kristina Georgia Snow is the perfect daughter: gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble. But on a trip to visit her absentee father, Kristina disappears and Bree takes her place. Bree is the exact opposite of Kristina — she's fearless.
Through a boy, Bree meets the monster: crank. And what begins as a wild, ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul — her life.
Nonfiction author Hopkins pens her first novel, written in verse, introducing 15-year-old narrator Kristina, who reveals how she became addicted to crank, and how the stimulant turned her from straight-A student to drug dealer, and eventually a teen mom. On a court-ordered visit to see her slimy and long-absent dad, she meets-and is instantly attracted to-Adam, who sports a "tawny six pack,/ and a smile." Soon, Adam introduces her to "the monster" (there, she also unleashes a new personality, id-driven Bree). Her addiction grows, as does Bree's control. Readers get a vivid sense of the highs and lows involved with using crank ("I needed food, sleep,/ but the monster denied/ every bit of it"). Her life changes quickly: Soon she's dating two guys, both of whom use crank; says "Fuck you" to her mom, can't keep up with school, and loses her old friends. There are plenty of dramatic moments: The first time she does crank, for example, her dad joins her. That same night, she stumbles into a bad area and is almost raped, and Adam's girlfriend tries to kill herself. Later in the book, she does get raped and starts selling the drug for the Mexican Mafia. Readers will appreciate the creative use of form here (some poems, for instance, are written in two columns that can be read separately or together), and although the author is definitely on a mission, she creates a world nearly as consuming and disturbing as the titular drug. Ages 14-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Valerie Ott - VOYA
Various styles of free verse and shape poems tell the story of Kristina, a quiet high school junior who, as with many teens, often feels like a stranger to herself and wants to test her limits. While visiting her deadbeat dad in Albuquerque, Kristina meets Adam and feels something "stir, like a breeze blowing up off the evening sea." She says, "My wind had awakened." To deal with these new and alien feelings, Kristina calls herself Bree and begins to think of herself as two separate people: Kristina is perfect, smart, and in control, but Bree gives her the courage to be wild, spontaneous, and a risk-taker. Adam introduces Kristina to crank or crack for the first time, and of course, she falls under its addictive and dangerous spell. After returning home to Reno, she tries to hide Bree from her family, but late nights out partying and long days sleeping off the effects soon raise their suspicions. The story reaches its climax when Kristina becomes pregnant as a result of being date-raped under the influence. Deciding to keep the baby is a courageous choice, but readers understand that Kristina's eternal struggle will be against the temptation of using crack. Although novels in verse are not new anymore, this one still works. Hopkins delivers a gritty, fast-paced read while effectively portraying the dangers of substance abuse without sounding pedantic or preachy. Teens will relate to Kristina's desire to experiment as well as her difficulty balancing conflicting feelings. Similarities to Go Ask Alice (Simon & Schuster, 1971) are undeniable, but perhaps this more modern version will be more accessible to today's teens. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasionallapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, Simon & Schuster, 544p., Trade pb. Ages 12 to 18.
Kristina is a good girl. She's shy, studious, and eager to be liked. But that's before she discovers meth. That's before Bree. Before Adam. Before addiction. This novel in verse depicts Kristina's descent into drug addiction. It starts because she was bored and wanted to impress a cute guy, but quickly morphed into a controlling influence on her every decision. Told from Kristina's point of view, the story lacks any kind of melodrama. There is no "poor me" type of language. The author does, however, create a complex character who alternately arouses the reader's empathy and dislike. When she tries to reconnect with her friends you hope she will succeed, but her lying and stealing to satisfy her addiction are despicable. There is little action in this story, no great climax, no major realization of her situation. The story consists only of Kristina's thoughts, sometimes self-reflective, sometimes calculating. While this shouldn't make for a great YA story, it is somehow fascinating and readers will be drawn into it. There are graphic and detailed scenes of drug use and sex, so be wary when recommending it to less mature readers, but for others, it earns a definite place on the shelf. Reviewer: Heather Robertson Mason
Claire Rosser - KLIATT
This devastating story, told in poetry, is even more frightening because it is based on the author's own experiences with her addicted daughter. As the author says in a note at the beginning of the book: "It is hard to watch someone you love fall so deeply under the spell of a substance that turns him or her into a stranger. Someone you don't even want to know." That is what happens to the narrator, a teenager whose life deteriorates after she gets involved with friends who use drugs—she cannot resist crank even though she understands it is destroying her. She will do anything for more crank. She has casual sex, she gets drunk, and eventually she gets pregnant. She thinks she should get an abortion, but at the last minute she decides to have the baby. Her family helps her through the pregnancy and she tries to keep sober, but in the end, after the baby is safely born, she returns to what she calls "the monster." This horrific story is told in many pages, but actually not so many words. Hopkins uses various experiments with word placement on the page to extend the emotional power of the poetry. The last poem is called "Happy Endings," and the narrator says she would like to give us one—but the drugs are calling her away from her baby, out the door. We know there will probably be no happy ending, ever. And we aren't used to YA novels that end in such despair, but we have to face the truth that many addicts do not recover. I hope the author gets some comfort from sharing this story with others. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2004, Simon & Schuster, 539p., Ages 15 to adult.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Seventeen-year-old Kristina Snow is introduced to crank on a trip to visit her wayward father. Caught up in a fast-paced, frightening, and unfamiliar world, she morphs into "Bree" after she "shakes hands with the monster." Her fearless, risk-taking alter ego grows stronger, "convincing me to be someone I never dreamed I'd want to be." When Kristina goes home, things don't return to normal. Although she tries to reconnect with her mother and her former life as a good student, her drug use soon takes over, leaving her "starving for speed" and for boys who will soon leave her scarred and pregnant. Hopkins writes in free-verse poems that paint painfully sharp images of Kristina/Bree and those around her, detailing how powerful the "monster" can be. The poems are masterpieces of word, shape, and pacing, compelling readers on to the next chapter in Kristina's spiraling world. This is a topical page-turner and a stunning portrayal of a teen's loss of direction and realistically uncertain future.-Sharon Korbeck, Waupaca Area Public Library, WI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Hypnotic and jagged free verse wrenchingly chronicles 16-year-old Kristina's addiction to crank. Kristina's daring alter ego, Bree, emerges when "gentle clouds of monotony" smother Kristina's life-when there's nothing to do and no one to connect with. Visiting her neglectful and druggy father for the first time in years, Bree meets a boy and snorts crank (methamphetamine). The rush is irresistible and she's hooked, despite a horrible crank-related incident with the boy's other girlfriend. Back home with her mother, Kristina feels both ignored and smothered, needing more drugs and more boys-in that order. One boy is wonderful and one's a rapist, but it's crank holding Bree up at this point. The author's sharp verse plays with spacing on the page, sometimes providing two alternate readings. In a too brief wrap-up, Kristina keeps her baby (a product of rape) while Hopkins-realistically-offers no real conclusion. Powerful and unsettling. (author's note) (Fiction. YA)
Hypnotic and jagged free verse wrenchingly chronicles 16-year-old Kristina's addiction to crank. Kristina's daring alter ego, Bree, emerges when "gentle clouds of monotony" smother Kristina's life-when there's nothing to do and no one to connect with. Visiting her neglectful and druggy father for the first time in years, Bree meets a boy and snorts crank (methamphetamine). The rush is irresistible and she's hooked, despite a horrible crank-related incident with the boy's other girlfriend. Back home with her mother, Kristina feels both ignored and smothered, needing more drugs and more boys-in that order. One boy is wonderful and one's a rapist, but it's crank holding Bree up at this point. The author's sharp verse plays with spacing on the page, sometimes providing two alternate readings. In a too brief wrap-up, Kristina keeps her baby (a product of rape) while Hopkins-realistically-offers no real conclusion. Powerful and unsettling. (author's note) (Fiction. YA) (Kirkus Reviews)
For Ages: 13 - 17 years old
For Grades: 8 - 12
Number Of Pages: 272
Published: October 2004
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Dimensions (cm): 17.8 x 12.7 x 3.8
Weight (kg): 0.358