Cracked by K.M. Walton
Sometimes there's no easy way out.
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….
It's hard to believe this was Walton's debut novel because it was that good. I hope people pick up Cracked because it is a powerful and hard-hitting story that will affect every reader. Cracked had been sitting on my shelf for a long time, but I decided to pick it up on a whim and it left me incredibly emotional. I've heard this book compared to those of Amy Reed and Ellen Hopkins, but I think Cracked is in a league of its own because of the characters.
Cracked is told from the perspective of both Bull and Victor and this adds a level of complexity to the novel. While many stories about bullying only give you one perspective, the reader gets to see into both Bull and Victor's heads. Bull torments Victor in school, but they are so far from the stereotypes people might associate them with. Victor is not the weak, spoiled, rich kid with the perfect home life and Bull is not the unfeeling, rash bully. Victor and Bull are very real and believable characters. My heart went out to both of them and while Bull's actions are inexcusable, being able to see what a terrible home life he had made him more three-dimensional. Bull had to deal with his alcoholic and abusive mother and grandfather and Victor had to face a lonely, loveless life with two cold, and uncaring parents. These very different lives demonstrated how you can never judge someone without stepping into their shoes and experiencing what they do first. I felt for both of these characters and I was quickly involved in both of their stories.
The short chapters made it hard to set this aside for a second and I ended up finishing it in one day. A lot happens to these two individuals in just over 300 pages and Walton really packed a punch with Cracked. Suicide, depression, domestic violence, family life, love, and bullying are all tackled in Cracked, but nothing seems forced and this is not what you might call an "issues" book. Cracked could easily be about any person in the world and I'm sure many readers will relate to at least one of the characters in some way. There is not too much I can say about this book without giving things away, so I suggest picking it up for yourself to see what happens.
Going into Cracked, I didn't expect to get so emotional, but it happened many times. Bull and Victor are two stand-out characters and their stories were heartbreaking. I am looking forward to reading more by K.M. Walton in the future and sharing her debut novel with as many people as I can.
Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars
January 3, 2012/Simon Pulse/311 Pages/Young Adult