Wednesday, September 2, 2015



YA fiction
Almost a week ago I stopped by the Orono Public Library en route
to Orono Community Garden to find six books by Ellen Hopkins waiting
for me. When I looked them over to decide which to read first I
discovered that two, Glass and Fallout, were sequels to Crank, turning
what seemed to be a stand alone into a trilogy. Crank had in fact
been meant as a stand alone. But it ended with very loose ends.
Kristina Bree is torn between the needs of her new baby and her need
for the monster. Not surprisingly, readers demanded a continuation of
her story. Fortunately Hopkins listened.
Glass picks up where Crank left off. Kristina and baby Hunter
are living with Kristina's mom and stepfather who have promised
shelter and sitting to enable her to get a GED and go to college.
Kristina is discouraged, frightened, overwhelmed:
"Who knew babies could
be so obnoxious, wanting

to eat at all hours, that is?
Most of the time, my nipples
feel like puppy chew toys."
[Bringing home one's first baby home from the hospital and being
responsible for that precious and fragile new life can be overwhelming
and exhausting under the most ideal circumstances. Trust me on that
if you haven't experienced it yourself. Now imagine being seventeen,
minus the baby daddy, and substance addicted.]
Not surprisingly, the call of the monster (crank) becomes too
hard for Kristina to resist. A visit to an acquaintance for the
purpose of scoring introduces her to a very good looking boy, Trey,
who deals and uses, an attraction as powerful as the substance she
"I miss feeling special.
Miss feeling beautiful
I only hope I haven't
impossible for a guy to look
at with lust in his eyes."
Needless to say, neither Kristina not Trey is in possession of
sound judgement. As it becomes increasingly clear that Kristina is
dancing with the monster again relationships at home become difficult,
especially when her mother begins to correctly sense that Hunter is in
Fallout leaps ahead a number of years in both literary and real
worlds. It's told through the alternating voices of Kristina's three
older children: Hunter, Autumn, and Summer. "I chose to pull out of
Kristina's point of view, into her children's to give them a voice,
and to give voice to my readers who struggle with their own parents'
addictions...You will get 'the rest of Kristina's story' through
different lenses because 'the monster' doesn't only destroy the
addict. It tries to destroy everyone who loves him or her..."
Hunter lives with Kristina's mother and stepbrother who have
legally adopted him. He's a college student and radio dj with a
certain amount of celebrity status. He feels that compared with a lot
of people he has a good life and wonders why he's often blindsided
with near uncontrollable anger.
Autumn lives with her aunt and paternal grandfather in Texas.
Dad, Trey, is in prison again. About mom Kristina:
"Maybe she's dead. Disabled.
Brain fried too crispy to even try
To stop by and say hello for fifteen years..."
Autumn suffers from panic attacks and manifests symptoms of OCD. Her
aunt is her constant 'cheering squad', there whenever she needs
reassurance or encouragement. Aunt Cora, however, decides on marriage
and a home of her own, leaving Autumn fearing this upcoming abandonment.
Summer starts out in foster care and gets put back with her
addict father and his current live in. Dad gets picked up by the
police driving drunk with weed in the vehicle. A new foster placement
takes her away from her boyfriend. When he offers her the chance to
run away with him she jumps in his vehicle with only the clothes she
is wearing.
Of course, whether present or absent, usually absent, Kristina
is interwoven into each strand of this narrative. News clippings from
various media outlets shed light on some of the people she has
encountered in the past.
These two very worthy sequels to Crank are must reads for folks
on both sides of the generation divide. Young adults can get a feel
for the dangers hidden behind crank's siren song. Adult adults can
come to see why overreliance on the just say no message will never
really keep out children safe.
On a quite ironic personal note, I wrote this review on the first day
of the University of Maine fall semester. My older daughter and her
fiancé are continuing grad school. For my younger daughter, on the
beginning step of her career path, it is the first year in nearly her
whole life not to be heading for the classroom. My college freshman
son surprised me by stopping by between morning and afternoon classes
so I could give him lunch. The juxtaposition of their health and
happiness with the context of my reading makes me realize how
incredibly fortunate I am. Back when my older daughter was in high
school a stranger told me how lucky I was she was clean in the sense
of drug free. His only child was 29 and had been addicted much of her
life. She had almost died twice from overdoses. He had forgotten
what it was like to sleep sure that he would not get a call from a
police department, hospital, or morgue.
A great big shout out goes out to the college class of 2019 and the
families who sent them forth into the world of higher education.
Julia Emily Hathaway

Sent from my iPod

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