Part #3 of Crank series by Ellen Hopkins
Also by Ellen Hopkins
Margaret K. McElderry Books
MARGARET K. MCELDERRY BOOKS
An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division
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This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2010 by Ellen Hopkins
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Book edited by Emma D. Dryden
Book design by Mike Rosamilia
The text for this book is set in Trade Gothic Condensed No. 18.
Manufactured in the United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Fallout / Ellen Hopkins.—1st ed.
Summary: Written in free verse, explores how three teenagers try to cope with the consequences of their mother’s addiction to crystal meth and its effects on their lives.
ISBN 978-1-4169-5009-7 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-4424-0945-3 (eBook)
[1. Novels in verse. 2. Drug abuse—Fiction. 3. Emotional problems—Fiction.
4. Family problems—Fiction. 5. Brothers and sisters—Fiction. 6. Mothers—Fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.5.H67Fal 2010 [Fic]—dc22 2009048408
For Orion, Jade, Heaven, Clyde, Eli, and Kalob, always in my heart. For Jason, Cristal, and Kelly, always my children, wherever they are. For John, always my own forever love. And with sincerest love and respect for my editor, Emma Dryden, who enriches my books with her wisdom and enriches my life with her friendship.
With a special nod to Jude Mandell, whose keen insight allowed me to see the direction I needed to go with this book. Many, many thanks, Jude!
RENO—Local author Marie Haskins’s fifteenth novel, Submission, debuted at the number one spot on the New York Times bestseller list. But this time, Haskins writes about a different kind of monster.
“This is a complete departure from my previous books,” Haskins said. “I have finally fulfilled a very old dream and taken the plunge into horror.”
It remains to be seen whether or not her fans will take the plunge with her, as the poems go beyond free verse, into the realm of formal poetry, specifically sonnets. Fortunately for Haskins, a number of words rhyme with “suck.”
“I have long wanted to write about vampires, but chose to wait until the subject was no longer a staple of every publisher’s list,” Haskins said. “My vampires are sophisticated and totally sexy, but set in a future world. Sort of like Dracula meets Star Trek.”
That life was good
but those page flips
went down before
that chapter of her
history before we
were even whispers
in her womb.
The monster shaped
lives, without our ever
touching it. Read on
if you dare. This
Hunter Seth Haskins
SO YOU WANT TO KNOW
All about her. Who
really is. (Was?) Why
she swerved off
the high road. Hard
Hunter Seth Haskins,
son. I’ve been
that down for
Why did she go
her mindless way,
leaving me spinning
in a whirlwind of
IF YOU DON’T KNOW
Her story, I’ll try
my best to enlighten
you, though I’m not sure
of every word of it myself.
I suppose I should know
more. I mean, it has been
recorded for eternity—
a bestselling fictionalization,
so the world wouldn’t see
precisely who we are—
my mixed-up, messed-
up family, a convoluted
collection of mostly regular
people, somehow strengthened
by indissoluble love, despite
an ever-present undercurrent
of pain. The saga started here:
Kristina Georgia Snow
gave me life in her seventeenth
year. She’s my mother,
but never bothered to be
my mom. That job fell
to her mother, my grandmother,
Marie, whose unfailing love
made her Mom even before
she and Dad (Kristina’s stepfather,
Scott) adopted me. That was
really your decision, Mom claims.
You were three when you started
calling us Mama and Papa.
The other kids in your playgroup
had them. You wanted them too.
We became an official
legal family when I was four.
My memory of that day is hazy
at best, but if I reach way,
way back, I can almost see
the lady judge, perched
like an eagle, way high above
little me. I think she was
sniffling. Crying, maybe?
Her voice was gentle. I want
to thank you, Mr. and Mrs.
Haskins, for loving this child
as he deserves to be loved.
Please accept this small gift,
which represents that love.
I don’t really remember all
those words, but Mom repeats
them sometimes, usually
when she stares at the crystal
heart, catching morning sun
through the kitchen window.
That part of Kristina’s story
always makes Mom sad.
Here’s a little more of the saga.
It started with a court-ordered
summer visit to Kristina’s
druggie dad. Genetically,
that makes him my grandfather,
not that he takes much interest
in the role. Supposedly he stopped
by once or twice when I was still
bopping around in diapers.
Mom says he wandered in late
Kristina along, both of them
wearing the stench of monster
sweat. Monster, meaning crystal
meth. They’d been up all night,
catching a monstrous buzz.
It wasn’t the first time
they’d partied together. That
was in Albuquerque, where dear
old Gramps lives, and where
Kristina met the guy who popped
her just-say-no-to-drugs cherry.
Our lives were never the same
again, Mom often says. That
was the beginning of six years
of hell. I’m not sure how we all
survived it. Thank God you were
born safe and sound….
All my fingers, toes, and a fully
functional brain. Yadda, yadda …
Well, I am glad about the brain.
Except when Mom gives me
the old, What is up with you?
You’re a brilliant kid. Why do
you refuse to perform like one?
A C-plus in English? If you would
just apply yourself …
Yeah, yeah. Heard it before.
Apply myself? To what?
And what the hell for?
I KIND OF ENJOY
My underachiever status.
I’ve found the harder you
work, the more people expect
of you. I’d much rather fly
way low under the radar.
That was one of Kristina’s
biggest mistakes, I think—
insisting on being right-up-
Anyway, your first couple years
of college are supposed to be
about having fun, not about
deciding what you want to do
with the rest of your life. Plenty
of time for all that whenever.
I decided on UNR—University
of Nevada, Reno—not so much
because it was always a goal,
but because Mom and Dad
did this prepaid tuition thing,
and I never had Ivy League
ambitions or the need to venture
too far from home. School is school.
I’ll get my BA in communications,
then figure out what to do with it.
I’ve got a part-time radio gig at
the X, an allowance for incidentals,
and I live at home. What more
could a guy need? Especially
when he’s got a girl like Nikki.
PICTURE THE IDEAL GIRL
And you’ve got Nikki.
She’s sweet. Smart. Cute. Oh,
yes, and then there’s her body.
I’m not sure what perfect
measurements are, but
Nikki’s got them,
all wrapped up in skin
like wheat-colored suede.
Delicious, from lips to ankles,
and she’s mine. Mine to touch,
mine to hold. Mine to kiss
all over her flawless
she’s got her own place,
a sweet little house near campus,
where I can do all that kissing—not
to mention what comes after
the kissing—in private.
I’m done with classes
for the day and on my way
to Nikki’s, with a little extra fun
tucked inside my pocket. Yeah, I
know getting high isn’t so
smart. Ask me if I care.
I AM GENETICALLY PREDISPOSED
To addiction. At least that’s what
they tell me, over and over.
The theory has been hammered
into my head since before I could
even define the word “addiction.”
Your grandfather is an addict and
your mother is an addict, so it’s
likely you will become an addict
too, unless you basically “just say
no.” Much easier said than done,
especially when you’re predisposed
to saying, “Hell, yeah!” Anyway,
I’m more of a dabbler than a dedicated
fuckup. A little weed, a little coke.
Never tried meth. Don’t think I ought
to take a chance on that monster.
Catching a buzz is one thing. Yanking
the devil’s tail is just plain stupid.
NIKKI ISN’T HOME YET
I let myself in with the key
she leaves stashed under the plastic
rock by the door. Good thing
she doesn’t own much in the way
of expensive stuff, something
I’m sure the neighbors are well
aware of. This isn’t a bad street,
but it’s heavily stocked with students,
many of whom have forgotten
the Golden Rule, if they ever knew
it to begin with. Inside, the window
shades are cracked enough so light
filters through. A thin beam
splashes against the hallway mirror,
lures my attention. When I turn
to find it, the eyes reflected
in the glass are completely unique.
“Piebald,” Mom calls them.
Green-dappled gray. Definitely
not Kristina’s eyes. What I want
to know now, as always, is whose?
I’VE ASKED THE QUESTION BEFORE
“If Kristina is my biological
mother, who fathered me?”
was her man of the month?
I’ve been told she slept
with more than a few,
the one whose lucky
sperm connected with
the proper egg? Whose
genes sculpted the relief of
cheekbones, the stack
of my shoulders, the stretch
of my legs? Do the eyes staring
back at me now belong to my
IN MOM’S BOOK
The story goes Kristina was
date-raped by some low-life
druggie lifeguard dealer.
When I asked if that was true,
Mom would only say that
the book is fiction, based on
fact, and that they aren’t one
hundred percent sure about
my paternity. But I think she
was trying to spare my feelings.
Who wants to believe they
were conceived of a rape, even
if the rape might have been
somehow solicited? What kind
of guy keeps going when
a girl says no way? And if a guy
like that really is my father,
could I have inherited a rape gene?
NOT THAT I’VE EVER ONCE
Insisted “yes” when a girl said no.
I’m not that kind of guy.
(Except when loaded.
Then I can be kind of stupid.
At least till the buzz wears off.)
(Except when I don’t get
enough sleep, which is often.
Then I lose my sense of humor.)
(Except when someone
acts like a complete idiot.
Especially in my face.)
(Except when it means I can’t
have my way, so I try to avoid
people who won’t let me have it.)
(Except for those days
when, for no apparent reason,
I’VE GOT A LITTLE PROBLEM
And I’m not really sure
how to fix it. Not really sure
I need to. Not really sure I could.
Life is pretty good. But once
in a while, uninvited and
uninitiated, anger invades me.
It starts, a tiny gnaw
at the back of my brain. Like
a migraine, except without pain.
They say headaches
blossom, but this isn’t so
much a blooming as a bleeding.
Irritation bleeds into
rage, seethes into fury.
An ulcer, emptying hatred
inside me. And I don’t
know why. Life is pretty good.
So, what the hell?
AS I PONDER THE QUESTION
A key turns uselessly in the lock—
uselessly because I neglected
to secure the door behind me.
Nikki peeks cautiously around
it, jumps back like she’s been
bitten. Guess she didn’t expect
to find some guy standing here.
“Hey,” I yell, “it’s only me.”
Nikki slams back across
the threshold, almost knocks
me over. Hunter! You scared
the heebie-jeebies out of me!
Heebie-jeebies. She’s totally
cute. I pull her into my arms,
happy to concentrate on her slate
blue eyes, instead of the green ones
in the mirror. “Sorry,” I say,
meaning it. And to prove
just how much, I give her one
of my world-famous kisses.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit of
an exaggeration, but I have been
told I’m an exceptional kisser.
I give it my all, and Nikki responds.
Her kiss is like a sudden fever—
white-hot, unplanned, contagious.
Too quickly, she cools, pulls away.
Apology accepted. But no smile,
and she never doesn’t smile. I study
her face harder, find anger, concrete
in the set of her jaw, but eiderdown
sorrow in her eyes. “What’s wrong?”
She slumps against me, takes
refuge as her sadness flows, wet,
in steady tears. My dad walked out
on my mom. He wants a divorce.
I’d like to feel sorry for her, console
Fallout by Ellen Hopkins / Young Adult / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes