Bibliographic information: Crank. Ellen Hopkins. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2004. $11.99. 537p. ISBN-13: 9780689865190.
Summary: Katrina is a normal kid who never does anything. She is practically the model child. Her parents didn’t stay together very long and she doesn’t know her father at all, other than what her mom has told her: that he is a ne’er-do-well father. Katrina is finally able to convince her mom that she is old enough to visit her father and get to know him. So during spring break she goes, and that is when she is introduced to the Monster.
Reading level and interest level: RL: grade 8 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: This shockingly realistic book is uniquely written in verse the entire way through. If you didn’t like poetry before reading this book, you just might be hooked on it after reading this book. Hopkins writes real-life situations and doesn’t hold back, using all the nitty-gritty details and none of the fluff. She tells it like it is. Her characters are real and easy to relate to. They speak to young readers who are struggling with the same situations. Highly recommended to all. Parents and teachers should be reading her books as well as teens.
Readers’ annotation: Her life was fine, if a bit boring, until she met the Monster. The Monster changed her life.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: The drug use and struggle that Katrina goes through will speak to teens who are going through the same situation or has a friend who is going through the same situation. This book will show these teens that they are not the only ones going through a difficult situation and there are ways to get past it and move on with life. Reading this book might encourage others to seek help with their problems.
Issues present: They book lays heavy emphasis on drug use and some people might be against the impressions this could potentially make on teens. Although, generally when a teens goes to read a book like this, they are not trying to get ideas on how to live their lives, they are trying to get idea’s on how to cope with the issues in their lives. This book could potentially save a teens life.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Katrina’s character.
P. 1 – defines the plot, simply.
Talk about drug addictions.
Genre or subject: Realistic fiction: drug addiction
Readalikes: Other Hopkins books, Go Ask Alice, Cut, Smack
Author’s website: http://ellenhopkins.com/
Awards: Abraham Lincoln Award (2009)
Reviews: Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Crank-Ellen-Hopkins/pid=232295; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-20174758442494.xml; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-689-86519-0; Kirkus Reviews: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/ellen-hopkins/crank/
Why I chose it: I have always been a bit curious about Hopkins work and find her writing style intriguing so thought I would give it a try.
Bibliographic information: Go Ask Alice. Anonymous. Prentice-Hall, 1971. $17.99. 192p. ISBN-13: 9780671664589.
Summary: A fifteen year old girl keeps a diary of everything she is feeling and what she does with her day. She starts out by telling us about all sorts of issues, such as crushes, weight loss, sexuality, social acceptance, and her difficulty relating to her parents. She wants to make her parents happy more than anything and they don’t think she gets out enough with friends, she is always cooped up in her room. When her father accepts a new job in a new city they move, and the girl feels like even more of an outcast, without any friends. She eventually finds a friend, Beth, and they become best friends. Beth leaves for summer camp, so the girl goes to stay with her grandparents in her old town and reunites with an old schoolmate, Jill, who finds it cool that the girl is living in a big city. Jill invites her to a party and the girl accepts because it’s nice to be accepted. At the party the girl is given a drink, that is unknowingly laced with LSD, and ends up having an intense drug trip that she finds pleasurable. And this is the start of an up and down roller coaster of drug addiction for the girl.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: grade 9 and up
Review: Supposedly based on an actual diary written by a fifteen year old girl struggling with drug addiction, this book should be a Lifetime special. This book is highly controversial and has been since it first came out in 1971. The name of the girl was never given in the book, we just get to see life through her eyes and how hard it was for her to fit in to society. She wants to be perfect for her parents, but can’t seem to get it right. After she tried the drugs once, she couldn’t seem to stop no matter how many times she decided she was going to. She was constantly being pulled back into the drug world by a craving she couldn’t overcome. Also, she appeared to be under a lot of pressure and the drugs helped her feel light and carefree. But she always suffered the consequences, until it was finally too much. The girl comes off as very realistic and believable. It is hard not to feel a little sorry for her. Although, this is a great book against drug use and the details of the writer are amazing, especially for a fifteen year old, which makes you wonder about the author. Something every teen should read.
Readers’ annotation: She never experienced a drug trip before, but now she can’t get enough of it. How could something so bad for you, be so powerful?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: The girl is struggling under the pressure to be the perfect daughter and student, but she can’t handle the pressure and is sucked into the world of drugs and it creates the downfall for her. Teens will be able to relate to the girls troubles and her struggles and they will be able to understand that drugs are not the answer and they should choose a different path. If they are feeling pressured and can’t hold the weight, they should talk to somebody about their troubles rather than despair under the weight of it all.
Issues present: Contains heavy drug use, some alcohol, smoking, sex, and vulgar language as well. Some parents or teachers might be against these issues and not want their teen to read this book. However, we see the bad side of these substances and are shown what will happen if you were to become addicted to drugs. Teens will be able to learn from this book and understand that drugs are not to be used.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce the girl’s character.
Compare the girl before and after the drugs.
The first time she tried them she was hooked.
Genre or subject: Realistic Fiction: drug abuse
Readalikes: Ellen Hopkins books, Jay’s Journal, Beauty Queen, My Name is Cloe, A Not-so-simple Life
Author’s website: Anonymous author, that was supposedly a fifteen year old girl who kept a diary of her adventures into the world of drugs. Beatrice Sparks is reported to be the author/editor, but this is not marked in the book anywhere so I can’t be sure whether it is true or not. Sparks apparently is the author/editor of several books like Go Ask Alice, such as Jay’s Journal, Treacherous Love: The Diary of an Anonymous Teenager, Almost Lost: The True Story of an Anonymous Teenager’s Life on the Streets, Annie’s Baby: The Diary of Anonymous, a Pregnant Teenager and It Happened to Nancy: By an Anonymous Teenager. and is given credit for this one as well. I could not find an official webpage for her.
Awards: Winner of YALSA 100 Best Books Awards 1950-2000 (2002)
Reviews: Commonsense media: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/go-ask-alice; Teen Ink: http://teenink.com/reviews/book_reviews/article/56564/Go-Ask-Alice-by-Anonymous/
Why I chose it: I have always been interested in Go Ask Alice because I had heard so many mixed reviews on it from friends and co-workers. So I took the opportunity to read it for this blog.
Bibliographic information: Looking for Alaska. John Green. Dutton Juvenile, 2005. $18.99. 160p. ISBN-13: 978-0525475064.
Summary: Miles, nicknamed Pudge, at the age of 16 has not friends and lead a very boring life, so he has decided that he wants to seek the “Great Perhaps” and signs up for boarding school. He soon meets his roommate Chip, known as the Colonel, and Chip’s friend Alaska Young, who is described as the most beautiful girl around. As a traditional welcoming prank, Pudge is thrown into the lake, but first he is duct taped, which is not customary. This leads Chip into believe there is more behind the prank than there should have been.
Reading level and interest level: RL: grade 9 and up IL: 14 and up
Review: Wrote as a first person narrative by our protagonist Miles “Pudge” Halter. Green does a great job on creating a plot and characters that catch your attention and make it hard to put the book down. Readers will be able to relate to Green’s characters and their situations that speak truths to the young adult nature. I instantly found myself relating to Pudge’s character because he is funny, sarcastic and exudes an “I don’t really care” type of personality that I think is relative to many teens. Riddled with alcohol and cigarette use, this is a heartbreaking tale of love and loss that will stick with the reader well after they put it down. I recommend it to people who are struggling to understand their lives and the people around them.
Readers’ annotation: Miles is looking for the “Great Perhaps,” so he signs up for boarding school and meets, Alaska, a girl who changes his life.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: First, this book would be helpful to young adults who are struggling with self identities and are trying to make something of themselves. Green does a great job with describing Mile’s struggles to grow into something more than what he is. Second, this book could be a good source for somebody struggling with the death of their friend a how to cope with such a tragedy.
Issues present: This book has smoking, alcohol use, and explicit sex scenes that could offend somebody else and they may object to it. However, these are common occurrences among young adults and people need to understand that just because a young adult may read about book with such content does not mean that they are going to pick up on the habits. And more than likely they have already had to deal with these issue in their daily lives.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Pudge, Colonel, and Alaska.
Pg 4. Starting with “That’s cool.” to the end of that paragraph – sums up Miles character well.
Genre or subject: Realistic fiction: love relationship, Bildungsromans
Readalikes: Other John Green books, Paper Town, Perks of Being a Wallflower, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, 13 Reasons Why.
Author’s website: http://johngreenbooks.com/; sparksflyup.com
Awards and lists: School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2005), Booklist Editors’ Choice (2005), NYPL Best Book for the Teen Age, An ALA/YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (2006), Los Angeles Times Book Prize (2005) Printz Award (2006), ALA Teens’ Top Ten (2005), Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award Nominee (2006), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2006), The Inky Awards for Silver Inky (2007), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2009)
Links to reviews: School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-35885691.xml
Why I chose it: I wanted the chance to read John Green’s first novel. I always expect more from his novels than I actually get.
Filed under Death, self-harm