The summer before her junior year of high school, Kristina Snow goes on a court-ordered visit to Albuquerque to see her estranged father. It's understandable why her mom's reluctant to send her there: Kristina's dad isn't exactly a standup guy, and he lives in a disgusting apartment in a shady neighborhood, works at a bowling alley that clearly has some not-so-nice activities going on, and is addicted to drugs and booze. So yeah, not exactly the greatest place for an impressionable teen to spend her summer.
Being at her dad's pretty much stinks for all of these reasons, at least until Kristina meets Adam, the charming neighborhood bad boy, who introduces our previously sheltered protagonist to a whole new world of romance, alcohol, nicotine, and most of all, crystal meth. The two spend a good portion of her visit making out and getting high with her dad. Before she goes home, Adam even gives Kristina a homemade tattoo of a misshapen heart to represent his undying love. That's a nice thought, but we all know summer flings are usually fated to crash and burn.
Kristina only goes to Albuquerque for a few weeks, but that's plenty of time for her exposure to Adam (and crank) to transform her into a completely different person. Back in Reno, Nevada, Kristina struggles to return to her normal, good-girl life and leave Adam and his crooked vices behind. Ultimately, though, she caves in to her desire for romance and drugs. Desperate for attention (and potential ways to get meth), she seduces/befriends two different guys from her hometown, a squeaky clean-looking lifeguard named Brendan and Reno High's resident rebel, Chase Wagner.
At home, Kristina's relationship with her mother and stepfather quickly tanks. She becomes sullen and moody, refuses to divulge any details of her summer, and is frequently grounded for lying, mouthing off, and generally being disobedient. This, however, doesn't stop her from sneaking out to party with Brendan in his friends, make out in Chase's truck, and get high every chance she gets. Things take a frightening turn when Kristina bribes Brendan to get her an eighth of an ounce of meth and Brendan rapes her as part of the transaction.
We'd like to say that things get better from this point on, but they don't. Kristina returns to school for her junior year and struggles to balance academics with her relationships with Chase and drugs. Abandoning her old friends for the other stoners and smokers in the school, Kristina finds a whole new social group, including Robyn, a popular cheerleader who turns to crank to stay slim and peppy. When sneaking out in the middle of the night lands Kristina in juvenile hall, her activities take a whole new turn—she meets a girl with a connection to the Mexican Mafia and becomes a drug dealer.
Kristina's pretty content with her ongoing supply of crank, popularity with her new friends and clients, and growing fame at school, but things take another dive when a bombshell drops into her life: She's pregnant. The bad situation gets unbearable when she realizes that Brendan, not Chase, is the father of her baby. While she's initially tempted to get an abortion, her stomach flutters while waiting for the appointment, and although it's too early to feel the baby, she takes it as a sign that she is to raise her child rather than go through with the procedure.
At the end of the book, Kristina says she loves and is thankful for her son, Hunter. She's also managed to stay relatively clean, with the exception of a couple of times caving in during her pregnancy. She takes responsibility for her actions, realizing that although she might be able to walk away from it, crank's hold on her will never really go away.