Study Guide

Crank Abandonment

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Alone, everything changes […] No mom, Marie, ever more distant in her midlife quest for fame; no stepfather, Scott, stern and heavy-handed with unattainable expectations. (Alone.1-2)

Kristina may live in the same house as her mom and stepfather, but she nonetheless feels abandoned and alone. Her mom is in the midst of a pretty severe midlife crisis, while Scott seems more interested in whom Kristina should be than who she actually is.

I hadn't seen Dad in eight years. No calls. No cards. No presents […] My mom, warrior goddess, threw down the gauntlet when he phoned […] I begged. Pouted. Plotted. Cajoled. I was six again, adoring Daddy. (My Mom Will Tell You.6-8)

Being abandoned by her dad as a child is obviously a major factor in Kristina's unresolved issues—not only does she blame her mom for breaking up their marriage, she seems unable to see her dad's faults. Instead she idealizes him as the person she saw him as when she was a child, no matter how unrealistic this image of him is.

I've been alone since Mom met Scott. He sucked the nectar from her heart like a famished butterfly. No nurture, no nourishment left for Kristina. (Aboard United 1425.5)

Let's try to translate this poetic language. Apparently, Kristina's mom fell pretty hard for Scott and neglected her own kids in favor of emotional involvement with him. As a result, it makes sense that these feelings of abandonment would cause Kristina to resent Scott. Dude took her love away, as far as she's concerned.

"Daddy?" He overlooked me like sky above a patch of dirt, and I realized he, too, searched for a face suspended in yesterday. (Mutual Assessment.3)

Kristina's dad's absence from her life has caused both of them to see each other through unrealistic lenses. When she arrives at the airport, Kristina is looking for the much younger man she idolized as a child, while her father is still largely looking for a little girl. This should be evidence enough that this visit is doomed to be a failure.


You've heard of work.

You couldn't take one day off?

You don't know my boss. (Dad Had to Go to Work.1-4)

Okay, let's get this straight. Kristina's dad takes her mom to court for the right to see her, then can't even take time off from work to be with her. Weird. Or not. Maybe his desire to see his daughter is less about connecting with her and more about ticking off her mom.

Not that Dad didn't ask plenty of questions, worthy of answers, but 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)

Being with her dad causes Kristina to reevaluate the way she's pictured him for the last several years of her life. He's not "Daddy" anymore—he's a pathetic drug addict living in a broken down apartment who works(-ish) at a bowling alley. She may have gone on the trip to reconnect with him, but seems to walk away from their visit more alone than ever.

I thought about the one time I actually sat down and talked to Adam's mom. Tough things for two boys, when their daddy turns his back on them. (I Went Straight for the Phone.3)

A major theme in this book is how neglect from parents causes children to make bad decisions. Adam turns to drugs because it is both a behavior he observed in his dad and to fill the void his father left in his life. Similarly, Kristina's broken family situation has created a storm of suppressed emotions that have to explode at some point.

I saw your dad the other day. It was kind of strange because he never even mentioned you. Of course, he was with a new woman […] Maybe he doesn't want her to think he's old enough to have a daughter your age. (As I Considered My Answer.4)

Adam's letter to Kristina is proof that her dad's interest in her life was a temporary thing. He doesn't keep in contact with her, doesn't mention her to Adam, and seems more interested in promoting his image with his new girlfriend. It's a huge bummer that her dad's fleeting desire to see her results in permanent damage to Kristina's life. Thanks for nothing, Pops…

It's always great to watch the world's best pilots fly, and better yet to see adults behave like juvenile delinquents. (We Found Our Box.3)

At the air show, Kristina's mom hits on a guy sitting near them while Scott is obviously checking out his boss's sexy wife. Not exactly one of the greatest parenting moments in history. Maybe they haven't physically abandoned their kids, but they don't seem concerned with what kind of example they're setting.

I feel like I've lost you, Kristina. I guess it had to happen sometime. It's as much my fault as it is yours. (Celebration Two.3)

Marie may have a seriously shallow side, but her reaction to Kristina's problems obviously shows that she recognizes her responsibility for her daughter drifting away from her. On some level, she sees that her distance from Kristina has caused her to become distant as well.

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