Crank: How the Novel is Written Specifically to Make the Reader Think, Feel and Understand

[(Essay dated 9 June 2010) In this essay, RS will review the use of free verse poetry in the novel Crank, and how it passionately portrays the life of Kristina Snow, drug addicted teenager, while created a personal relationship between reader and character]

Simply put, Crank by Ellen Hopkins is a novel about infatuation, addiction, and going to great lengths to feed the needs of the two. Loosely based on Hopkins' former meth addict daughter, Kristina Georgia Snow, a shy, 15 year old girl from Reno is introduced in the beginning of the story. However, by the end of the story, she is Bree; rebellious, drug addicted, and spiralling downward at an increasingly faster rate. The reader follows Kristina through living with a caring family in Reno, to visiting her drug-addicted father, falling in love with a boy with an alter ego himself, Adam (Buddy), and returning home to Reno to only feed her unhealthy addiction through any means possible. At the end of the novel, she is low on money, pregnant with a rapist's baby, and needs crank to make it through her day. The reader follows Kristina's path of destruction closely and personally through the writing style chosen by Ellen Hopkins.

Like her other novels, Crank is written in free verse. Every page is a different poem, describing the life of Kristina and detailing her addiction. At times, these poems will display a noticeable visual guide shaped by the text of the page that trigger emotions and provide powerful messages. For example, in the poem named "Changed", a part in the story where Kristina was facing troubles with her addiction and is trying to get healthy again, the text is written in the shape of a Cross. Not only does this make a stronger impact of the idea of praying and keeping your faith during hard times, but it also makes the actual reading of the novel much smoother, keeping the reader interested. Also, in this poem, the longest line is the horizontal line crossing the Cross, which says "If You do still care, Lord, please keep me safe" (Hopkins 207). Because of the shape of the Cross, this line is the most visible of the poem - providing the reader with a powerful quote from Kristina that shows her inner turmoil because of the drug she is addicted to.

Another instance where Hopkins uses a visual display in her text is in the poem titled "Home Sweet Home". In this poem, the text is in the shape of a home. At the top (the roof), Kristina is talking about her home - "Our pretty little place on a hilltop acre, native sandstone and imported compost..." (Hopkins 191). However, it skips a line to get to the base of the house, where there is a space right down the middle, that gets larger as it goes on. On one side of the split, Kristina is talking about how she used to be, saying how the house "looked like it welcomed me / looked just the same to me" (191), wheras on the other side, across the space, it states "looked like it threatened me / looked completely different" (191). In this poem, the visual representation portrays Kristina's psyche and what she truly feels.

Whether the space in the Home poem or the line in the Cross poem, the use of visual aids in the text of Crank provides the reader with a powerful, emotion-hitting message. Because the readers are able to see what Kristina feels, they get a better sense of what it would be like to be Kristina - what it would be like to have a drug problem like hers, which is capable of triggering many different emotions.

The free verse style of this book also creates a closer relationship between Kristina and the reader through the way the story is told. The poetry is first person from the point of view of Kristina, and most of her conversations are with no one but herself, and Bree, of course. The way the narration is portrayed takes the reader inside Kristina's head, to read what she is thinking, feel as she does, and eventually be able to understand completely what it is like to be an addict.

In the poem titled "Voices", Kristina just finds out that the baby that she is pregnant with is the result of a rape that occured after an outing with a druggie went bad. The page is separated into four scattered columns, one for every person that was in the room with her while she was there. Kristina passes out after realizing, and her mind goes crazy. What is happening in her mind is understood clearly by the scrambled exclamations from the different people with her. Some of which including "'Young lady!' 'Wake up!' 'Hello?'" (496) - all from different people, sometimes repeated. The reader is able to read through this page quickly, reading the exclamations as fast as the people would be saying them, and understanding what it would be like from Kristina's point of view.

Lastly, the free verse in the novel is often separated so that strong words and sentences appear to the side of the poem, making the story much more powerful, and the writing much more creative. For example, on the pages containing the poem "To Speed or Not to Speed?", the words that are secluded from the story put together make the sentence "anywhere anytime anyway I could. the monster and I had become- best friends" (174-175). This one sentence explains everything happening in Kristina's life at that moment in the story. Drugs had become her life, and the fact that this one sentence is secluded from the rest of the story lets the reader see just how strong this addiction was and how although she's telling a story, the secluded sentence is always in the back of her mind.

Another example of this is seen on page 297, in the poem titled "Chase Left Me with Goodies". This poem is telling the part of the story where Chase, her boyfriend at the time, gave Kristina some meth as he left after a date. Aside from the story is the sentence "no way, to get her way. no way to get away Little chance to sneak away. Insanity" (297). In the story, although she is talking about what is happening in reality, (being grounded, school, etc) she can't help but think about the fact that her life is also insanity, and she can't escape the hold meth has on her.

(R.S. 2010)

Glass: Two People Inside the Main Character Becoming One

[(Essay dated 9 June 2010) In this essay, RS will analyze how Bree, the main character Kristina's poorly behaved alter ego quickly becomes Kristina in the sequel to Crank]
In the sequel to Crank, Glass, the main character Kristina has her baby and has stopped using meth - for a little while at least. Now at age 18, she soon picks the habit up again, meets another boy that she falls in love with, and ends up being kicked out of her home and having to sell drugs for money, until she is arrested and put in jail.

In Crank, it was relevant that Kristina's alter ego, Bree, appeared solely when she was around meth. Kristina once said in Crank - "Bree was the esssence of me" (Hopkins 243) - Bree was the person she was when drugs were in her life; Bree was her, when she was high. There was always Kristina, however - the girl who cared about her family, the girl who could snap out of anger fits caused by crashing after a high, the girl who cared about her baby.
In Glass, Kristina is no longer Kristina, and there is no longer a Bree and a Kristina. After Kristina gets back into the habit after having her baby Hunter, and taking care of him for a while off the drug, she gets hooked quickly again, stronger than last time; it takes her life over rapidly and she no longer cares about anything but getting her fix. The new Kristina is Bree, in the flesh.

The night of Kristina's 18th birthday, her father and his new girlfriend come to town. Kristina is sober for the most part, and says good bye to her son - "I kiss Hunder on the forehead. 'Be a good boy. Tomorrow's your big day'" (Hopkins 240). Kristina is showing compassion and undying motherly love to her baby son. However, after her outing with her father and Linda Sue, his girlfriend, she is completely different; the start of her transformation has begun when she arrives late to her own son's baptism- the one that old Kristina was so excited for just the night before.

As the story progresses, worse and worse changes occur. She lies to her family, saying she has a "college fair", when really she needs drugs. She crashes and lets her baby get stuck under a chair, she is forced to work with La Eme (Mexican Mafia) and buy pounds and pounds of meth. Her life quickly unfolds into something that would have been unimaginable for Kristina, and something normal for Bree.

Another way Hopkins makes it apparent that Bree and Kristina have finally become one is the fact that there are no longer references to Bree. Everyone she knows begins to refer to her as Krystina, and she no longer says anything about Bree in the story she tells. For example, in Crank, we often saw lines similar to "I invited Bree to take over while Kristina took cover" (Hopkins 246). In Glass, there are no actual references to Bree taking over for Kristina while she's participating in dangerous activities. All of the bad things Kristina does, Kristina does.

Foreshadowing is also used in the very beginning of Glass to tell the readers that Bree will turn into Kristina. In one of the first poems of the book, You Know My Story, the secluded words from the text make up the statement "Kristina became the monster" (3). Bree, the reason Kristina got in most of the trouble she was involved in was the monster at first. Crank was Bree's life, not Kristina's. This sentence at the beginning of the book is foreshadowing a dark path for Kristina that she ends up following perfectly.

(R.S. 2010) 

Impulse: How the Novel Cleverly Expresses the Emotions and Thoughts of the Characters

[(Essay dated June 8th, 2011) In this essay, A.A. will analyze the use of syntax, diction, and the effective-ness of motifs in the novel Impulse to express the emotions and inner turmoil of the three main characters (Tony, Vanessa, and Connor), who suffer from various types of trauma and are brought together by their admission to a mental hospital]

you could turn off
the questions, turn
off the voices,
turn off all sound.
to close out
the ugliness, close
out the filthiness,
close out all light.
to cast away
yesterday, cast
away memory,
cast away all jeopardy.
you could somehow stop
the uncertainty, somehow
stop the loathing,
somehow stop the pain.
on your impulse,
swallow the bottle,
cut a little deeper,
put the gun to your chest.

This is an excerpt from Impulse by Ellen Hopkins (3), a novel about three teenagers struggling to find themselves and cope with the world, entitled “The Thread”. This novel is unique in its approach to the difficult topics it examines, in that the entire work is written as a book of poetry; each poem different, with different meanings hidden between the lines, following the lives of three different people, but all coming together to create one story. This works toward one of the many themes of the novel: every person is connected and there is always more to someone than what is expected at first glance.
From the very beginning, Hopkins masterfully crafts an enticing introduction to her characters (as seen in “The Thread”). Reading the poem as a whole, it is focusing heavily on the questions and longings that people tend to have regarding life and how they should respond to it. The last stanza of the poem reveals the issues that the characters will be recovering from later in the novel (in a nut shell – attempted suicide). However, at second glance, the poem becomes something more. All of the words secluded on the far left of the page come together to create a thread of sorts – “Wish, Yearn, Long, Pray, Act”. These words form a thread of thought that leads to the inevitable conclusion – action. If you read the poem again, you find more or less the same thread in the last line of each stanza. “turn off all sound, close out all light, cast away all jeopardy, somehow stop the pain, put the gun to your chest”. These phrases express a train of thought that is known to be the train that leads some people to suicide. First they experience extreme inner turmoil and because of that they seclude their self from everything and everyone (“turn off all sound.” “close out all light.”). Then they become numb inside from lack of motivation and support (“cast away all jeopardy.”) Then they experience further turmoil because things have continued to get worse, so they turn to their own method of subduing their pain (“somehow stop the pain.”) Finally, all of this turmoil leads to one conclusion. “Put the gun to your chest.” In one poem, only one small piece of the entire novel, Hopkins has already spoken volumes. Already, the emotions of the characters have become quite clear… and their names have not even been introduced yet.
Sentence structure such as that is found throughout the entirety of the novel, creating levels of depth in the characters that could not be achieved if the novel were written as conventional prose opposed to poetry.
Each character is introduced so that their inner-most conflicts are immediately addressed, but not established. Throughout the novel, new things are revealed that tie all of the old together so the reader feels that they are getting to know the person over time, as the characters get to know one another in the novel. Connor is the first character to be introduced. Although seemingly insignificant at first, he seems to be tied up in appearances. He describes the corridors as “spit-shined” and refers to the people in the building as “the blur of painted smiles, fake faces.” When he first meets one of the counselors of Aspen Springs (the mental institution), he describes her as “a mannequin”. After she introduces herself as Dr. Boston and tells him that he will be staying in the Redwood Room, he points out the irony of the entire place by saying “Aspen Springs. Redwood Room. As if this place were a five-star resort, instead of a lockdown where crazies pace” (6). Later, Connor discusses the terms of his attempted suicide and describes the moment when his mother finds him after he shot himself in the chest. Instead of expressing the concern his mother had (or didn’t) he says “I thought she might die too, at the sight of so much blood and the thought of it staining her white Armani blouse” (8). It is quickly established that Connor’s entire life has consisted of appearances, that his mother is obsessed with looking good on the outside, and that Aspen Springs is just another method of maintaining a good image. This contributes to another motif: appearances are everything, and they are usually misleading.
The second character introduced is Tony, a teenager with extreme conflict regarding his sexuality. As with Connor, this conflict is introduced immediately, but in a way that hides the fact that Tony will be struggling with this conflict throughout the novel. Tony has been in the mental hospital longer than Connor, and the first poem written from his perspective is of the day he first lays eyes on him. He describes Connor as “tall, built, with a way fine face, and acting too tough to tumble. [He’s] a nutshell asking to crack. Wonder if he’s ever let a guy touch that pumped up bod” (11). Not only does this establish the fact that Tony is attracted to the same sex, but it also reveals more about Connor’s appearance, which is unexpected given that the stereotypical jock doesn’t have problems, yet one waltzes into a mental hospital with a badge of attempted suicide scarred on his chest. Tony’s other main conflict – his attempted suicide by taking half a bottle of Valium, is also addressed shortly after his conflict with sexuality. He vaguely explains his previous experimentation with drugs which reveals that he, unlike Connor, isn’t as open to sharing his experiences and his story. There is mild juxta-position created between Connor and Tony, given that they are introduced consecutively and presented as completely different individuals; Connor being the macho jock who isn’t bothered by sharing his personal life immediately, and Tony being the gay kid from the “wrong side of the tracks” who keeps himself concealed in his own thoughts. As he says in the poem “I Lost My Mind”, just as he seems to be on the verge of sharing some of the experiences that landed him in Aspen Springs, “Enough sappy crap. We were talking drugs” (13).
Vanessa is introduced lastly, and is different from the other two. The way her poems are written, a sense of numbness and frigidity that surrounds her character is created. In the poem “Cloistered” (the first encounter with Vanessa’s thoughts), she creates strange comparisons by going through several different types of imagery to describe the way her thoughts work and the way she feels. She refers to memory as “a tenuous thing, like a rainbow’s end or a camera with a failing lens” (17). She then explains the way her memory (or focus) works. “Sometimes my focus is sharp, every detail clear as the splashes of ice, fringing the eaves; other times it is a hazy field of frost, like the meadow outside my window” (17). This use of diction portrays just how different her “focus” can be; sometimes sharp and clear like ice, and other times blurred and soft like frost. Both images are frigid, and express the cold she feels inside. Later, it is discovered that her mother is bipolar and that she is more than likely suffering from the same illness herself, which explains how she can smoothly move from the image of a rainbow to the images of cold and failure. Like Tony, she is more likely to keep her closest troubles to herself (her relationship with her mother which is established later in the novel). However, like Connor, she doesn’t seem to be bothered by sharing her immediate issue – self-injury. She explains very early on the way that her life nearly came to an end, when she “gave [her]self to the knife, asked it to bite a little harder, chew a little deeper” (21).
The two of many motifs analyzed in this essay follow the characters throughout their stay at Aspen Springs, and throughout one person’s entire life (which is surprisingly cut short in a tragic ending). In short, the book is filled to the brim with high levels of depth and creative syntax. This is what makes the novel have such an impact, and also what makes the characters so real.

Identical: How the Use of Concrete Poems Helps to Further Establish Meaning

[(Essay dated June 10, 2011) In this essay, A.A. will analyze the use of concrete poems in the novel Identical and how they effectively establish meaning so major events in the lives of the characters become emphasized.]

Identical by Ellen Hopkins is a novel about identical twin sisters (or maybe one sister who thinks she is both…) who must learn to be strong when all they can do is be weak and give in. Throughout the novel, they must battle their father’s rage and perversion, their mother’s frigid nature, their inner demons, and the lies that have embedded themselves into their lives in order to move on from a car accident that turned a successful, wealthy Californian family into a nightmare. The novel is written in free-verse poetry, like all of Hopkins’ works, but contains an especially large amount of concrete poetry used to plant images of the darkness that these girls must face into the mind of the reader.

One problem plaguing the family is alcohol consumption. Raymond (the father) has always had a drinking problem, but it became an addiction and a threat to his family after the accident. In “There’s Daddy” (8), a concrete poem in the shape of a bottle, Kaeleigh describes her father’s outside appearance, his real self, and the way he makes her feel. In the neck of the bottle, Kaeleigh describes the immediate issue: how her father “comes home every day, dives straight into a tall amber bottle, falls into a stone-walled well of silence, a place where he can tread the suffocating loneliness”. She then compares the man he is as “a tough but evenhanded jurist” in his courtroom to the man he is at home, “a broken soul”. As the poem continues deeper into the bottle, his ugliness becomes worse, implying that the alcohol makes him even more despicable. At the bottom of the bottle, his deepest demons are almost uncovered, but not quite because Kaeleigh isn’t yet ready to discuss them. The poem ends with “secrets I should want to tell, but tuck away. Because if I tell on him, I’d have to…” The following poem is entitled “Tell on Me” (9), which finishes the sentence. The fact that the poem is left unfinished reveals the fact that Kaeleigh does not want to be associated with the things that her father has done, but also makes a statement on how Kaeleigh doesn’t plan on telling any of her father’s secrets. Also, ending the poem with three dots (which implies that there is a continuation of some variety) also symbolizes how Raymond downs alcohol constantly, and his consumption doesn’t end with just one bottle. Literally, the three dots at the end of the poem portray the last few drops in the bottle, before he starts on another.

The novel has a lot to do with control on all levels. Self-control, control over others, control in a situation, control over addictions, control over habits, etc. In many instances, the novel focuses largely on obtaining and maintaining a certain level of control in life. In the poem entitled “In Control” (45) Raeanne, Kaeleigh’s (dead, unbeknownst to her) twin, examines her own take on control. The beginning of the poem contains scattered words and ideas that express what being out of control means for Raeanne. She compares being in control and being out of control by saying “Sometimes they’re the same thing. The trick is knowing that, realizing it’s okay to feel out of control once in a while, as long as you’re sure you can regain the upper hand…”. Then at the end of the poem, she describes what being in control relies on for her, “saying no”. This part of the poem is structured, which contrasts with the beginning’s mess; this shows the extreme contrast between the two in Raeanne’s life.

Another poem full of scattered words is “Most People” (236). This is written from Raeanne’s perspective again. In the poem, she is describing what she likes about bulimia (though she never says that she suffers from it). As she binges and purges, she says that “most people hate to vomit. Can’t stand… the heave of bile and undigested food”. She then goes on to describe what separates her from the people who don’t like to puke: “I like my belly emptied, even temporarily, of food. Of fat. Of pain.” This is another method of control that Raeanne puts into effect. She says in an earlier poem that how much she eats is the only thing she can control. However, the poem resembles the bit in “In Control” about being out of control. The connection between the two poems is that Raeanne thinks that she is in control, but she never really is, and she never will be until she can learn to “say no”.

Raeanne is not the only daughter that must deal with control, however. Kaeleigh has a poem that is written in the same scattered, out of control way. This creates a connection between Kaeleigh and Raeanne as the possibility of them being one person starts to become more plausible. In “New Blade”, Kaeleigh views her self-injurious behavior as a way for her to exert control over herself and her life. As with Raeanne, this is only an illusion that she has created for herself, and is really just another way that her life has become more out of control.

Later in the novel, Kaeleigh finally defies her father by informing him that she is growing up and can no longer be controlled by him. This outburst sends the family into “separate corners”, as shown in “The Afternoon’s Drama” (412), a poem that portrays each family member’s way of maintaining control. One person is in each corner of the poem, separating them completely. “Daddy’s holed up in his bedroom, shacking up with his deadly duo…”, “Mom crawled off to the guest room, telephone in one hand, wine bottle (two) in the other”, “Kaeleigh waited for them to fall silent, sneaked to the kitchen, yacked down five hot dogs”, “Watching her made me go puke up my Lean Cuisine…” The poem effectively shows the family’s differences, but also creates another similarity between Kaeleigh and Raeanne; their binge and purge habits. After that, the similarities between the girls increase in number, until the end when Kaeleigh remembers that Raeanne is dead.

Identical: How the Use of Characters' Experiences Make Mental Illness a Tangible Concept

[(Essay dated June 7th, 2012) In this essay, M.V. will analyze the use of character development and involvement in the novelImpulseto express how mental illness is made understandable to the reader through the main characters’ (Raeanne/Kaeleigh’s) experiences. ]
Ellen Hopkins’ novel Identical, written entirely in verse, follows the experiences of identical twins Raeanne and Kaeleigh as they must cope with various struggles, including familial, relationship, drugs, and inner turmoil. Through alternating viewpoints of two twins, timid Kaeleigh and wild Raeanne, the novel plays out in two very different perspectives of one horrifying situation.
On page 8, “There’s Daddy” is a poem in which Kaeleigh first introduces the reader to her father’s plights with alcoholism and prescription drug abuse. The verse is fittingly shaped as a bottle, much like that of his “tall amber bottle (Hopkins 8)” of Wild Turkey, and also his tiny pill bottles of painkillers. Though her father was once a successful judge, he became the family’s biggest problem after causing a horrific car accident while under the influence, leading to his dependence on his vices and to the next issue to be faced: sexual abuse and incest.
It is revealed that soon after the accident, Daddy began to molest, and later rape, Kaeleigh, but not Raeanne (as revealed at the end of the novel, Raeanne is simply Kaeleigh’s alter ego of her sister, who died in the crash). Daddy, at points throughout the novel, apologizes to Kaeleigh after his horrific acts. It is mentioned by Daddy that Kaeleigh is “so much like her mother,” whom had detached herself from the family prior to the accident. Though his actions are completely inexcusable, Kaeleigh feels sympathy, even longing (as Raeanne), for her father. She knows that what he is doing to her is awful, yet still feels compassion for her lonely father, as only a daughter can.
Character involvement also plays a large part in Kaeleigh’s growth. As a volunteer at a retirement home, her favorite elderly woman, Greta, shares her experience with sexual abuse in “Her Voice Softens” on page 464. She explains that her father, too, sexually abused her as a girl, though Kaeleigh never admits that she is in that situation to Greta. Greta relieves her trauma, recalling “My Satan/was a butcher, tall, heavyset, and/the face he wore looked exactly/like mine. He was my father, and/he believed he owned me.(464)” Hearing Greta’s story made Kaeleigh feel less alone, yet could not give her the courage to seek the help she needed.
Often throughout the novel, the reader may find his or herself blaming Raeanne foe Kaeleigh’s torment. When it is Raeanne’s time to narrate the novel, she boasts of how much stronger she is than her twin and how she would never allow their father to abuse her as he does Kaeleigh. Yet, when it is revealed that Raeanne is is simply and alter-ego of Kaeleigh’s, Hopkins artfully incorporates a way for readers to understand more easily the mental illness dissociative identity disorder. By developing a strong, independent character like Raeanne to parallel timid, accepting Kaeleigh, Hopkins makes the idea of dissociative identity disorder much more tangible and easily accepted by her readers. DID is often a coping mechanism associated with PTSD or trauma form sexual abuse as a child (as Kaeleigh began to endure at age nine). “Disorganized attachment and lack of social support are thought to be a necessary component of DID, along with a rigid parenting style, temperament, genetic predisposition and an inversion of the parent-child relationship (Wikipedia).” As a result of her sexual abuse, strict rules forced upon her by her father, and lack of relationship with her part-time mother, Hopkins presented all usual causes for DID throughout the novel. As the clues piled up, Raeanne took over Kaeleigh more and more, until boyfriend Ian interfered and had her seek treatment in a mental hospital, where she was diagnosed.
Through the plights of those surrounding her and the deterioration of Kaeleigh’s mental health, Hopkins was able to incorporate the awareness of numerous mental illnesses, from substance abuse to DID, via the characters encounters and battles with them. The presentation of these illnesses was made more understandable as the reader experienced them with the characters.

Crank: The Appeal of Engaging in What We Know is Wrong

[(Essay dated June 7th, 2012) In this essay, M.V. will analyze how the appeal of something one knows is wrong can be greater than one’s conscience ]

Ellen Hopkins’ Crank, loosely based on her daughter’s struggle with crystal meth, follows main character Kristina’s infatuation to battle with the drug. The novel, written in verse, proposes the question: why do we do what we already know is wrong? Kristina has already seen the effects crank can have first-hand with her father, who lives in a beat-down apartment and eats only fast food, using the rest of his bowling alley paycheck on crank. Yet she can’t help but indulge when offered a ride on the “monster’s” ride, soon spiraling from straight-A, straight-laced Kristina to sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll-loving Bree.

Kristina first arrives to Albuquerque in quest of her estranged father, knowing from her mother’s warnings that he had lost the battle with drugs long ago. But, as a theme that appears reoccurring in Hopkins’ novels, Kristina can’t resist her father, and pouts and pleads until allowed a trip to the “Prince of Albuquerque’s (Hopkins 19)” castle. Dad’s pad is more dungeon than castle, as it turns out: no air conditioning, no cable TV, no food in the fridge, but cockroaches to spare. When the goal is to get high, the surroundings were of no matter to Dad. All money from his measly paycheck went right to the monster, even if it meant living in squalor.

Enter a new “wrong” for Kristina: Buddy (Adam) and his girlfriend Lince (Lynx). All girls know that its wrong to break up a couple. Yet “Bree,” Kristina’s carefree alter, seems to have either missed out on that memo, or shredded it upon arrival. Kristina embraces her new identity quickly, throwing caution to the wind, and accepting Adam (Buddy’s alter ego) as her main man for the summer. He soon introduces her to crank and, like father like daughter, she does not hesitate nearly as long enough as we hope she will before becoming a loyal follower of meth’s magic.

The wrong does not stop there. Every parent knows that drugs are a “no-no.” But Kristina’s father is no typical dad. So, despite what would seem like something any parent would avoid, Dad dives right in and joins “Bree” and Adam on their binge, along with Lince.

Kristina, at first, has a grip on Bree. After a very high Lince attempts to throw herself from a balcony, Kristina gets back in control and calms the cravings for crank. If s substance can cause someone to act so recklessly, it is more certainly to be avoided. Anyone knows that. Unfortunately, hard drugs hold a tight grip. Kristina slowly succumbs to both Bree and the monster as the novel continues. As addiction takes over, so does Bree, whom does not seem to mind borderline prostituting herself for drugs, still paying for her meth after being raped by her dealer, Brendan.

Even when true love comes along later in the school year in the form of Chase, Bree cannot curb her addictions. Plea as he may for her to calm her wants for the drug, she continues her quest, though she does feel guilty for what she is doing.

Upon discovering her pregnancy with the rapist’s child, Bree begins to dissipate as Kristin attempts to pull in the reins and become a mother. Yet the monster manages to find its way back into her life, and throughout her pregnancy, Kristin allows Bree to take over and treat herself not only her tobacco addiction, but to meth, all the while knowing how harmful the actions could be.

In many cases, one will engage in actions they have otherwise deemed in the wrong due to the appeal shown through other’s actions. In some ways this may be called peer pressure. Ellen Hopkins shows these indulgences as a progression from harmless to potentially fatal, thus underlying the note that one should never give in to forces outside of themselves.