Saturday, October 2, 2010

FALLOUT by Ellen Hopkins

FALLOUT speaks for three teens whose lives are connected by one woman and the grip of a drug known as the "monster".  Hunter, Autumn, and Summer are three of Kristina's children.  If those names seem familiar, it is probably because you met them in CRANK and GLASS, two novels by Ellen Hopkins.

CRANK and GLASS are the fictionalized story of Hopkins's daughter's addiction to meth.  In this final book FALLOUT, the author imagines the future and how it might look for an addict's children.  What will those children remember of the past, and what will they take with them into the future?

Hunter has been lovingly raised by his grandparents and wants more than anything to take his life in a different direction than his mother.  He has dreams of a career and has found the woman he may want to spend the rest of his life loving, but he fears that through genetic connections he will eventually crash and burn.  Responsibility and commitment were major elements missing from his mother, and now as Hunter approaches adulthood and his own relationships that require those key components, he worries they will be his downfall, too. 

Summer has known some semblance love from her father, and she's been tolerated by his various girlfriends, but it never completely filled the hole left by the mother who moved on without her.  Now her father is serving time for DUI, and his latest girlfriend is in no position to take care of a teenager, Summer finds herself shoved into a foster care family with problems of their own.  It's the last thing she ever thought she would do, but running away seems like the only answer.

Autumn lives with her grumpy grandfather and her Aunt Cora.  Now that her aunt is getting married and moving to Austin things are about to change.  The last thing Autumn wants to do is live alone with an ailing grandfather, and complicating matters is the fact that after falling for Bryce and having unprotected sex, she might even be pregnant.  The last thing she expects to learn is that she has a sister and several brothers - all fellow victims of a mother too focused on her own selfish desires.

Novelist Ellen Hopkins takes her loyal readers on a trip into the future as she gives voice to the children of her famous Kristina.  Hopkins explains in her Author's Note that she has imagined the lives of Kristina's children some years from now to illustrate the impact substance abuse can have, not only on the life of the user, but also on the lives of everyone they touch.  As in CRANK and GLASS, Hopkins's message is loud and clear and will hopefully help others whose lives have been complicated by drugs or alcohol.


Ms. Yingling said...

Even my teenage daughter, who enjoyed Hopkin's books, doesn't think they are appropriate for middle school. Have you had any problems with them, or do you recommend them only to your 9th graders?

Readingjunky said...

Ms. Yingling,
Hopkins's books are available for 8th grade and up with the exception of TRICKS which I keep in my high school collection.

Since I am a classroom teacher, I am able to do a lot of discussion with my students about various types of books and the liberties some authors take to get their message across. I have found that students ready for this more serious subject matter go for it and those not really ready don't.

Every student who checks out such a book gets a reminder from me that the language may be strong and the subject serious, and that I expect them to respect that. I've only taken a book away from a student once because he was sharing "select" passages with other students. I told him he obviously wasn't mature enough to handle the book's subject, and he didn't object.

As a librarian you are seeing many more students per day than I am. I have the luxury of really knowing the levels and abilities of each of my students.