Study Guide

Kristina's Dad in Crank

By Ellen Hopkins

Kristina's Dad

It's interesting that while he plays a pretty huge role in setting Kristina's conflict in motion, we never actually learn Kristina's dad's name. We're not totally sure why Ellen Hopkins chose to do this, but we're pretty sure it has something to do with the distant relationship between him and his daughter. After all, this whole story only happens because her dad decides to breeze back into her life after seven years by way of a court ordered visit, only to effectively transform it forever.

At nearly forty-five years of age, Kristina's dad has little to show for his life and even less ambition to do anything with what's left of it. Basically, the guy is a mega loser—he lives in a rundown apartment, sees women as a means to an end for food and sex (I Hid Out for Three Days), and spends a lot of time "working" at a shady bowling alley with an even shadier back room. Not only that, but he has a pretty serious drug problem on top of all this, having started smoking pot as a teenager (He Hadn't Changed At All.2).

And yet Kristina is quick to defend him when he demands that she come for a visit that summer. If you're wondering what reason she could possibly have for hanging out in a really bad neighborhood with her druggie dad for three weeks, you're in good company because it sure doesn't seem logical. Kristina keeps a certain loyalty to him, though, that compels her to want to make the trip. "Maybe he wasn't perfect," she tells us, "but he was still my dad" (The Screaming.5). And to be fair, it makes sense that she'd be curious about him after all these years.

Probably the most defining trait of Kristina's dad is that he just doesn't get it. He's too entrenched in his routine of being on drugs, crashing, and going to the bowling alley to see that he's leading his daughter down a terrible path. Need evidence? Look at his reaction when Kristina tells him about Lince falling/jumping off the balcony. "Pretty girl," he says. "Hard to believe we just partied together" (Dad Asked Where I'd Been.4-5). Yikes, right? No fatherly instincts shining through there.

Not only that, but the incident leads Kristina to believe that even though he's indirectly responsible for her new exposure to sex and drugs, she can't talk to him about their effects on her. While he's the only dad she has and she was once quick to defend him, her experiences cause her to see him in a new light:

How could I tell the man who turned his back on "daddy" status how my life had changed?
How could I explain gut-wrenching insights to someone so lacking vision?
(One Hour.2-3)

In the end, Kristina's dad disappears from the book as quickly as he enters it. For the rest of the story, he briefly returns to make sure Kristina got home safe from the airport and to coldly confirm the news that Kristina is pregnant. It's tough to say whether he's aware of the damage his bad decisions during the visit cause—we could interpret his anger over the pregnancy as shocking insight into what he's done or disgust at his daughter's bad decisions. Nonetheless, the story doesn't happen without this nameless loser leading Kristina down a very bad road.