I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Cracked by KM Walton
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2012-01-03
Genres: Bullying, Dating & Sex, Social Issues, Suicide, Young Adult
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A teen takes a bottle of pills and lands in the psych ward with the bully who drove him to attempt suicide in this gripping novel.Victor hates his life. He has no friends, gets beaten up at school, and his parents are always criticizing him. Tired of feeling miserable, Victor takes a bottle of his mother’s sleeping pills—only to wake up in the hospital.Bull is angry, and takes all of his rage out on Victor. That makes him feel better, at least a little. But it doesn’t stop Bull’s grandfather from getting drunk and hitting him. So Bull tries to defend himself with a loaded gun.When Victor and Bull end up as roommates in the same psych ward, there’s no way to escape each other or their problems. Which means things are going to get worse—much worse—before they get better.
I have had Cracked by KM Walton in my TBR pile for an obnoxious amount of time, at least two years which is totally unreasonable as it is so short and the type of book I love to read. You see, Cracked is a contemporary young adult book that takes on a pretty serious subject matter. It’s one of those books that is painful and layered. It could feel like an after school special, but it turns out that to me, the book never felt like it was giving me a giant speech about issues and teenagers. Readers, I really enjoyed my time reading Walton’s debut. It’s definitely one of those single sitting types of books and one that will certainly give you feels.
Cracked opens up with Victor Konig wishing death on Bull Mastrick. You see, Bull bullies Victor and has humiliated and hurt him in a multitude of ways. Victor has no friends and is very unhappy. His parents are cold and distant. One day, Victor takes all of his mother’s sleeping pills and ends up on the suicide watch/psych ward of the local hospital. He discovers that unfortunately for him, Bull Mastrick is his hospital roommate. Bull has an abusive and horrific home life. He finds a loaded gun and threatens his grandfather, Pop, with it and somehow ends up shot in the leg. His grandfather plays it off as though Bull has tried to commit suicide. So, there he is on the psych ward in the one week suicide watch program. Throughout the week, the two boys begin to discover that they are not so different after all. They will never be best friends or anything, but they learn truths about themselves and find a reason to live.
Victor Konig has a life that from the outside looking in superficially seems pretty sweet. His parents are old and megarich, like his mom drives an $80,000 car because she’s vice president of a bank and his dad is an architect. He has a perfect SAT math score and does really well in school. HOWEVER. Victor’s parents are total assholes in that they lay a lot of pressure on him. They never show him any love. When he gets his SAT results back they get pissed that his verbal and writing scores are not perfect like his math score. Um, what the what. His parents treat him like furniture, basically, and care more about their own image than they do him. They never show him any love or anything.
Also, Victor is terribly harassed by Bull. Like, it’s bad you guys, to the point of him pulling down his pants in gym class. THEN the only thing in Victor’s life that loves him, a 15 year old teacup poodle named Jazzer, dies and that is when Victor decides he cannot take living anymore. You guys, my heart is in ribbons. I didn’t pity Victor but I totally felt empathy for him. How much does it suck to not have any love or affection in life? That poor kid.
As for Bull Mastrick, I thought that I would end up hating him. I thought I would loathe him because he is a bully. Then, I read his chapters. His life is much more rough than Victor’s. Bull lives with his mother and abusive grandfather in a two bedroom apartment where there is never any food. His grandfather constantly beats him and calls him names. He must work at the Salvation Army to be able to afford the basics in life because his family does not provide them — they drink all their money away.
There is one place Bull is happy though, the graveyard, where he brings books that he buys brand new to read in peace and silence and also hides away the cash he saves from work. The only person who ever goes to the graveyard besides Bull is an old groundskeeper and well, Bull knows how to avoid the groundskeeper. Anyways, things get tense and scary for Bull when he finds the gun and decides he has had it with his grandfather’s abuse. When he winds up in the hospital, we see the walls slowly come down and we see him realize that other people have it bad too. We see Bull learn to trust people. I have to say that of the two main characters in Cracked, I liked Bull’s development the most.
KM Walton’s Cracked is written in a dual first person perspective, meaning that the chapters alternate between Victor and Bull’s point of view. I thought this allowed for the reader and well, myself, to connect with the two main characters very easily. I was super invested in the story. Cracked is very fast paced. Little is wasted on extraneous details, instead we get an unadorned story with flawless character development and an interesting plot. It was impossible for me to set the book down. It is quite easy to read and the sort of book to pick up when you want something that is emotional and engaging.