Friday, March 3, 2017

LS 5663.20 Review: Crank by Ellen Hopkins

by Ellen Hopkins

Hopkins, Ellen. Crank. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2004. Print. 

Poetic Elements: The wonderful thing about a book of verse such as this is the extent in which the poetic elements can change, even when it is still covering the same story. The sound an rhythm of the story can change greatly from page to page based on the format of the poem and what Hopkins is trying to accomplish with that specific part of the novel.The one thing that Hopkins seems to really focus on throughout the entire novel is sensory language and emotional impact. Throughout the entirety of the novel, it is possible to imagine and see the story play out in the reader's head because of how detailed Hopkins was in her writing. As for emotions, it is a roller coaster as we deal with Kristina, who also happens to be Bree in certain parts of the book.

Appeal: This book will appeal to students, but it seems to be in a different way than a lot of other verse novels will accomplish. Of course, there is the possibility that readers will be able to relate to things that the protagonist is dealing with throughout the story. The story line and events are intense, but it is not unlikely that others her age know about these topics. For those who may not be able to relate, it could appeal to readers in a different way. As humans, we often find interest in reading about these types of topics; for instance, in this particular novel the character becomes very invested in crystal meth, or "crank." Even for readers who have not experienced this, and do not plan to, we tend to like to read about such things. 

Overall Quality: The overall quality of this book is quite good. Hopkins has quite a bit of experience writing novels in verse, and certainly has a great number of the available to readers, almost all of them about difficult topics like the one covered in this novel. Not only does this story lend itself to be an emotional experience for readers, but it also gives the opportunity for growth and education. Perhaps the reader can relate, and they see things in themselves that they need to work on or change by reading Kristina's story. Perhaps it is a cautionary tale for those who may be tempted to go down a similar road. No matter the situation, it will certainly have an effect on readers. 

The Poets: As stated, Ellen Hopkins is known for her ability to write books in verse. She is the lone poet of this book, and she does a wonderful job making it seem like multiple poets could have pieced the pages together due to the differing formats and layouts of the included poems. Hopkins has an abundance of verse novels published, leaving other books available for readers to pick up if they want to read something similar. 

Layout: For me as a reader, one of the most intriguing things about this novel is the layout or format in which it follows. By this, I mean that it does not seem to follow any sort of format at all. Each time the page is turned, the reader does not know what might greet the. There are several pages where the poems are formatted in a very simple manner. Stanzas with straight lines and very little rhyme. On other pages the layout is unlike anything I have seen, with words aligned in all directions and the text making interesting shapes across the page. If the story was not enough, these interesting formats keep the story moving as well. 

Spotlight Poem: 

   I went to my dad's in June, met Adam
        the very first day. It took some time
          to pry him from his girlfriend's grasp.
             But within two weeks, he introduced
               me to the monster. One time was all
                  it took to want more. It's a roller-
                    coaster ride. Catch the downhill
                       thrill, you want to ride again,
                         enough to endure the long,
                           hard climb back up again.
                           In days, I was hooked on
                         Adam, tobacco, and meth,
                       in no particular order. But
                     all summer vacations must
                    end. I had to come how to
                    Reno. And all my new bad
                   habits came with me. It was
                  a hella speed bump, oh yeah.
                 Until I hurt for it, I believed
                 I could leave the crystal behind.
                 But the crash-and-burn was more
                 than I could take. When the jet landed,
                  I was still buzzed from a good-bye binge.

Of course, this is one poem from the text (among many others) that you would want to make sure was appropriate for the age of children working with. The book is not at all appropriate for the students I teach, so I just chose a poem I thought would be interesting to use. There is an extended metaphor, and I would be interested to see if students can not only identify it, but explain why it is there. After that, they should be able to determine why the poem is formatted the way that it is. They should be able to discover it moves with the character, based on her feelings and actions.Then, I would have them write a poem in which they change the format based on what they write about. 

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