Study Guide

Crank Choices

By Ellen Hopkins

Choices

Life is full of choices. We don't always make good ones. It seems to Kristina you gotta be crazy to open your windows, invite the demons in. Bree throws rocks at the feeble glass, laughs. (Choices, Choices.1-6)

By her own evaluation, Kristina may be overly cautious, but considering the kinds of activities she's involved with, that's not exactly a bad thing. Assuming the persona of Bree is what allows her to abandon her guarded nature and make some bad decisions in the process.

He pulled a bindle from his pocket, tapped the sparkly powder inside.

Cooked up fresh yesterday.

Mother Kristina said no. The monster stormed Bree's door.

That's my girl. Let's forget the bulls*** and fly. (So of Course I Did a Really Stupid Thing.1-4)

It seems like in the early days of her relationship with the monster, Kristina fights an internal battle between her tendency to play it safe and Bree's desire to throw all caution to the wind. Perhaps because of the drug's addictive nature, Bree's choice wins out.

"Kristina is who they made me. Bree is who I choose to be." (So of Course I Did a Really Stupid Thing.5)

Kristina's issues aren't all about crank; they're also the result of having been squeezed into the mold of her parents' expectations for way too long. While there are a lot of factors involved, it's getting away from her family that gives her the freedom to choose to be Bree.

And it occurred to me for one uneasy moment that every move I had made lately might have started a landslide. What if I couldn't go back? What if I died in the crash? (I Hid Out in My Room Until Dinner.5)

We know that Kristina's unfortunately right, but her brief fear being unable to return to the way things were isn't enough to keep her from making the decision not to stop.

Why had I gone? What had I done? Who would want me now? How could I deny the state of my being or my part in its disintegration? No way to elude the bitter bite of blame. (Brain Waves.3-5)

Okay, so let's just be super clear about one thing: Kristina is blaming herself for Brendan raping her here, but no matter how terrible her decisions were leading up to that moment, it is absolutely and completely not her fault. No one chooses to be raped.

Now you might think an experience like that would serve as a stern warning, make a person do a quick about-face and sprint in the other direction.

Didn't happen like that for Robyn.

Didn't happen like that for me. (Now You Might Think.1-3)

Are you sensing a pattern here? The lure of crank is so intense that it literally seems to suspend typical human logic. Under normal circumstances, Kristina and Robyn might respond to being sexually assaulted by steering clear of the crank scene and returning to the straight and narrow path. But being with the monster isn't normal circumstances.

"What about your bad choices, Mom? Have you ever once stopped to consider how they not only created me, but helped mold me into the not-so-fine, not-so-upstanding, old-beyond-her-years, not-exactly-a-lady standing in front of you?" (Half of Me.2)

We don't mean to play the blame game here, but Kristina's mom does bear some responsibility for her daughter's decline. It's true that she couldn't help sending Kristina to see her dad—the court order made it impossible not to—but she could have immediately followed up with Kristina to make sure nothing bad happened during her trip, or intervened as soon as she realized her daughter was different. Alas, she did neither of these things.

This very big part of me wanted to confess, to ask forgiveness, request help. Oh, I knew my bad habits had escalated, and if Kristina had had her way that day, well, who knows? But over the last few weeks, Bree had gotten stronger, and her argument—that Mom might put her away, far removed from friends, Chase, and all personal choice—was feasible. (I Spent the Next Day.1)

Maybe Kristina is indeed on a downward spiral that she's powerless to stop, but she refuses to seek help for her problems just as much as she refuses to stop them herself. In this case, the prospect of losing Chase as well as access to the drug makes telling her mom an option too frightening to consider.

I would never shoot up again. I would smoke less, toot less, keep my bad habits manageable. (Notice I didn't say quit them.) I would also avoid sipping other people's blood. (Resolutions.7)

Even a brush with juvenile detention after getting picked up by the cops isn't enough to make Kristina realize that things are totally out of control. Rather than seeing her habits as the source of these problems, she again decides against quitting, thinking that moderation will be the key to getting her out of this. As for the blood thing, we're pretty sure that's a good move.

I told you once before that life is full of choices. Sometimes, good or bad, hard or easy, we make the right choices. (More Choices.1)

Kristina's decision to keep her baby rather than have an abortion is her way of taking responsibility for her actions rather than pushing them to the back of her mind and going on with her drug-addled life. It's a pretty big deal moment.

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