4.6 25
by K. M. Walton

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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

…  See more details below


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….

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bullying gets a thorough examination in Walton's YA debut, a stark, but often heavy-handed story that alternates between the perspectives of the victim and the aggressor. Sixteen-year-old Victor Konig may be a math genius, but his icy parents ignore him when they're not pressuring him to be perfect. No longer able to endure parental neglect, as well as bullying at the hands of William "Bull" Mastrick at school, Victor attempts suicide, landing in a psychiatric hospital. Coincidentally, his tormentor ends up there as well, after his own hellish home life drives him to a moment of violence. Committed to the psych ward for five days, the two enemies have to deal with one another, both as roommates and in group therapy. But it may be impossible for them to overcome their respective traumas, abusive backgrounds, and mutual hatred, unless they accept help from outside, unexpected sources. Though Walton successfully exposes the impetus of violence through well-developed central characters, both Victor and Bull's guardians feel one-dimensional. The author's bleak depiction of the cycle of cruelty loses some of its potency through an overly tidy conclusion. Agent: Sarah LaPolla, Curtis Brown. Ages 14-up.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
“In this powerful debut novel, K.M. Walton takes an unrelenting look at the corrosive effects of bullying, sometimes coming from where one would least expect it. CRACKED crackles with emotional intensity from beginning to end.”

—James Howe, bestselling author of THE MISFITS

"Readers who enjoy stories of dysfunction, personal growth, and redemption will love this book."
VOYA, February 2012

"[Bull's and Victor's] stories offer a strong message of hope to the bullied and abused."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April 2012

VOYA - Aarene Storms
Victor is invisible: ignored by other students at school, continually chastised by his parents, not loved by anyone. The only person who pays attention to Victor is Bull, who terrorizes him. Bull is angry: abused and neglected by his mother, beaten up regularly by his grandfather. Bull is feared by everyone else...until the day that he decides to fight back, using a gun. When Victor and Bull end up in the same hospital, in the same psych ward, in the same room, things get worse. But in a place like that, getting worse is the necessary first step towards getting better. First-person narration alternating between Victor and Bull draws the reader deeply into the story. The fast-moving timeline of recovery seems extremely unrealistic, but the emotional journey of both boys is completely engaging and convincing. Readers who enjoy stories of dysfunction, personal growth, and redemption will love this book. Reviewer: Aarene Storms
Kirkus Reviews
In a debut novel utterly devoid of subtlety, a bully and his primary target end up as roommates in a hospital psych ward. Although Bull has tormented Victor ever since elementary school, both come from unhappy homes. Victor is the child of the most exaggeratedly miserable and demanding rich parents imaginable: When he receives a perfect score on only one of three SAT test sections, his mother, unable to eat, asks, "how could you let those other scores happen ... to us?" In Bull's somewhat less caricature-ish family, the grandfather is a violent drunk and the mother spends their food money on beer, but both are protective in their own way. Chapters narrated from each boy's perspective allow readers to see the same situations through both Bull's and Victor's eyes, from an improbable run-in at the Salvation Army to the boys' even more improbable stay in adjacent hospital beds. The hospital is a far more nourishing environment than either teen's home, and readers see both Bull and Victor open up in new ways during their time there. A poem central to the text suggests that mistreated people who feel empty can "fill / themselves / up," but the healing here happens through others' intervention rather than through internal change. Well-meaning but ineffective melodrama. (Fiction. 12-15)

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Product Details

Simon Pulse
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
HL610L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


I HAVE WISHED THAT BULL MASTRICK WOULD DIE almost every single day. Not that I would ever have anything to do with his death. I’m not a psychopath or some wacko with collaged pictures of him hanging in my room and a gun collection. I’m the victim.

Bull Mastrick has tortured me since kindergarten. I’m sixteen now, and I understand that he’s an asshole and will always be an asshole. But I wish a rare sickness would suck the life out of him or he’d crash on his stupid BMX bike and just die.

Lately, as in the past two years of high school, he’s been absent a lot. Each day that he’s not in school I secretly wait for the news that he’s died. A sudden tragic death. As in, not-ever-coming-back-to-school-again dead. Then I’d have some peace. I could stop looking over my shoulder every five seconds and possibly even digest my lunch. Bull has a pretty solid track record of being a dick, so death is my only option.

Last year Bull pantsed me in gym. Twice. The first time was—and I can’t believe I’m even allowing myself to think this, but—the first time wasn’t that bad. It was in the locker room and only two other guys saw me in my underwear. And they’re even more untouchable than I am. They’re what everyone calls “bottom rungers.”

Fortunately, the bottom rungers just dropped their eyes and turned away.

But a few weeks later Bull put a little more thought and planning into it. He waited until we were all in the gym, all forty-five of us, and when Coach Schuster ran back to his office to grab his whistle, Bull grabbed my shorts and underwear and shouted, “Yo, look! Is it a boy or a girl?”

I’m not what anyone would categorize as dramatic, but it seriously felt like he grabbed a little of my soul. I remember standing there like a half-naked statue—not breathing or blinking—as wisps of me leaked out of my exposed man parts. I heard a snort, which unfroze me. I slowly bent down, pulled up my underwear and shorts, and walked back into the locker room.

And puked in the corner like a scolded animal.

He got suspended for it, which earned me two guaranteed Bull-free days in a row. You think that would’ve made me feel better. But each time I walked down that hallway in school or thought of the forty-five fellow ninth graders—eighteen of them girls—seeing my balls, I would gag. Then I’d run to the closest bathroom and regurgitate perfectly formed chunks of shame and disgrace.

Bull has a habit of triggering my body functions. In second grade, he made me pee my pants on the playground. He sucker punched me, and I landed face-first in a pile of tiny rocks. Bull squatted down just so he could use my head to push himself back up, squishing the rocks further into my face. He had just enough time to tell everyone I’d peed my pants before the playground monitor wandered over to see what the commotion was.

“Victor pissed his pants! Victor pissed his pants!” Bull shouted over and over again.

I laid facedown for as long as I could. I knew I’d peed my pants. I felt the warm humiliation spread through my tan shorts. And I knew that as soon as I stood up, the difference in color would be a blinking arrow, alerting the entire playground that yes, Victor Konig had just pissed his pants.

I got up on my elbows and felt my cheeks. It was as if my face sucked up those rocks like they were nutrients or something. Many were embedded and had to be popped out by the school nurse. I looked like I had zits—twenty-three red, oozing zits.

My father wanted to know what I had done to provoke “that boy”—like Bull was actually human. My mother only cared about what the adults at the school thought of her eight-year-old son pissing his pants. She said it made her look bad and that grown-ups would think she wasn’t raising me correctly.

“Only weird boys pee their pants on the playground,” she said. And then she asked me if I was weird.

She actually asked me, “Victor, are you one of those weird boys? Are you? You can’t do that to Mommy. I’ve worked very hard to get where I am in this community, to live in this lovely neighborhood and in this beautiful home. I can’t have my only child embarrassing me. Do you understand, Victor? I can’t have you be one of those weird boys.”

I remember apologizing for embarrassing her.

Bull cut in front of me in the lunch line the next day. He shoved me and said, “Out of my way, pee boy.”

I remember apologizing to him, too.

© 2012 K. M. Walton

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Cracked 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was honestly wonderful. You fall in love with both of the characters within the first few chapters. Very well-written without any boring spots. Recommend for high school age and up
celesteee More than 1 year ago
I read this novel as a part of my senior thesis on bullying awareness and prevention and Walton does an amazing job chronicling this horrifying bullying epidemic. She shows both sides of the story, bringing each character to life in a genuine manner. I finished it quite quickly because it was hard to put it down. It's simple, but intimate. You get to know Bull. You get to know Victor. Anyone who's interested in learning more about the causes and effects of bullying should take this fiction chronicle and READ IT!
Kimmiepoppins More than 1 year ago
This book matters. It's a simple as that. Bullying is a pervasive issue in our society today and more people need to be reading a book like this. Why? What makes this one special? I have a few reasons why I think this is a stand out. But first, I'll be honest with you... K. M. Walton is a friend, an Apocalypsie and a fellow author at Simon Pulse. I sort of wish this wasn't true because there will be many people that assume that my respect and love for CRACKED is influenced by those connections. I'd like to take a moment to convince you why this isn't true. In the past I've been a special education teacher that specialized in children with emotional and behavioral issues. My father was a counselor in a maximum security prison. The first year I taught I can remember coming home and asking my dad..."Where is the line?" He looked at me funny, wanting to know what line I was talking about. Then I explained that the children I worked with were obviously victims. Their issues were clearly connected to the things that had happened to them in their lives. But what I wanted to know was if they couldn't be helped, what day would they stop being victims and what day would they start to be bullies, offenders, abusers, prisoners? Suddenly everything was a blur to me. When might these children go from being someone I loved and wanted to help to being someone who might turn around to someone else and do the same things that were done to them? This thought and these children have weighed heavy on my heart all my life. K.M. Walton doesn't give me the ultimate answer to this bigger than life problem, but she throws ropes to her readers--giving them something to hold on to. More important, she raises question and she does it will great skill. I don't think any one book or one person can give us the answers to such a large hole in humanity, but this is the kind of book that asks us to dig deeper as readers. It is a book that crakes creates sparks--the hope of illumination. It renews the fire within me to make the world a better, safer place--to stand up and have a voice. It helps me to put the people around me into perspective, so I can better navigate those who hurt. Because bullying doesn't happen to just children. It reminds me that the world is not black and white--but grey--full of shades of truth that blur the lines between right and wrong, good and bad and ultimately life or death. I highly recommend CRACKED by K.M. Walton and if you're moved by the writing of John Green, Laurie Halse Anderson and K.L. Going, then I think you have a new hero to add to your bookshelves. If you read CRACKED I would love to hear what you thought. <3
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
    My mini review--I hope that once I am done recovering from Disney and the resulting cold, I hope to more thoroughly review this one.       I love how gritty and real Walton writes. The characters are so realistic, flawed and in this case, has serious problems.      The bullying is so hard to swallow. I hate it, and I have been on the side of getting picked on, but luckily for me, never severely. I think that especially with boys, it is true to life and could really have happened in a school setting. It is sad to have to live in that fear and the object of hatred and you can tell how that coupled with distant parents who are requiring perfection, and he hopes if he reaches it, they will finally show him affection, leads him to want to end his life.     In Cracked, we also get the perspective of the bullyer, although we never really see what is going through his mind when he was being his cruelest, we do see his messed up home life, and see that it is a cycle. Feeling out of control at home, he finds an easy target and has control over something, much like a girl with an eating disorder. There is so much more to his character though, and some surprising twists. I def felt for him, but it was hard to get past what he did to Victor.      A good portion of the book is in the mental hospital, and I think that also gives a look into the world of mental illness that is slowly being broached in the world of YA. I don't know how realistic it is, since I have only been in individual therapy, but I did tear through the pages at their realizations, unexpected friendship, healing and ultimately having the unexpected people to stand up on their side.      The ending was fitting, and left me satisfied while still sad to leave my character.      I loved getting the dual perspective from two guys, with no romantic connection between the two.       Bottom Line: Emotional look into what leads to suicidal thoughts/actions and then healing. 
CatsInSpace More than 1 year ago
Wonderfully written, vividly told I find myself drawn to novels about young adults in mental institutions. In fact, I did a whole project on the subject while working on my master&rsquo;s degree in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Chatham College. Though I never spent time in a mental hospital while a teenager, I have struggled with depression and anxiety since high school and relate to the stories of people who have reached the point of suicidal behavior. Reading stories of others, even fictional others, who have suffered make me feel more normal. There are many good books on the subject, and I have just discovered another one. I recently attended a young adult author panel at my local independent bookstore (Doylestown Bookshop) where I chatted for a while with author K.M. Walton. She told me about her book Cracked, in which a bully nicknamed &ldquo;Bull&rdquo; and his victim, Victor, both end up in a mental institution at the same time. The book is told in dual perspective, jumping from Bull to Victor every other chapter. This is an excellent way to tell this story, and perhaps the only way that would be effective. By being in both boys&rsquo; heads, we can understand each of them and see the similarities in their lives before they do. We see Bull&rsquo;s miserable home life that has lead him to bullying Victor. We see Victor&rsquo;s uncaring parents that lead him to attempt suicide. When the boys end up roommates at the hospital, we know why each of them is there, but we get to watch as they slowly figure each other&rsquo;s stories out. What I find most amazing in this book is Walton&rsquo;s ability to make Bull&rsquo;s character so sympathetic right away. His story is arguably the more tragic of the two, and I found myself torn between wanting him to find happiness and protection and wanting to slap him for taking his sucky life out on someone else. The author writes each character in such a way that we can feel like we know and understand them. Though the story progresses in a somewhat predictable way (the boys find a peace between each other in the end and have a better life waiting for them), I enjoyed the whole read. I don&rsquo;t know how Walton managed to write the voices of troubled teenage boys so well, but they seemed liked real teens you could find at a local high school. Whether you have had personal experience or not with mental illness, bullying, or abuse, you should read this book to remind yourself that people who seem fine are often crying out for someone to listen. Maybe you can help.
Lectus More than 1 year ago
I really liked Cracked. How at the beginning of the story Victor and Bull had only two things in common and then a series of coincidences occurred. Bull is a bully and Victor is the bullied. The story is told from both the voices of Bull and Victor, and they both have distinct and strong male voices and personalities. In this book Walton explores family and social issues in a different tone, giving it a unique voice that made it powerful. The story doesn&rsquo;t cover bullying within the school environment but rather at a personal and individual level. This is not a book about how bullying affects the school and what the faculty does to deal with it. No; it addresses bullying solely from the point of view of the bully and one person being bullied. What I liked most is that at the end these two do not end being best friends. Life kept its course with natural changes but nothing major to make this book end like a totally happy love story. I also like that Victor stood up for himself &ndash; if just a little &ndash; and faced Bull. What I didn&rsquo;t like: Well, notice that I said that the book didn&rsquo;t end like a totally happy love story. Totally, but it almost did at the end and that is why I didn&rsquo;t give it a full 5-stars. I understand that at the end the story had to wrap up but it also could&rsquo;ve been a little bit more realistic because in real life things don&rsquo;t get fixed that quick and you don&rsquo;t get a guardian angel out of the blue. I also didn&rsquo;t like that Bull never stood up for himself to confront his pop which was something I was looking forward to seeing.
mistressofdark More than 1 year ago
I LOVED this book. Absolutely loved it! It dealt with suicide and troubled teens, messed up families and pain. It did touch me on a personal level, it did make me cry but it also made me smile and feel hopeful for these two boys. I liked how in the end Walton shows us what has happened and what has changed for Victor and William 4 months after their incidents. It is clear that the psych ward in which they had to spend 5 days proved to be a life-changing experience for them. Also, this book just seemed so real. It was simple an a good way. The characters and situations presented were all realistic and believable. The main characters were extremely likeable and I desperately wanted to hug them and be their friend the whole time. Yes, I even wanted to hug the bully becasue it wasn't his fault he never knew love and violence was all he was ever taught.
GConallen More than 1 year ago
What a great read for teens and parents alike. The best books are those that teach us something or inspire us in some way and this book has surely done that for me. I was engrossed from chapter one! I walked away from this book reminded that I should always be looking for that person who needs a kind word or encouragement. Sometimes it is the smallest gestures that make the biggest impact. The characters are diverse and so well developed. Selfish and brokens characters are starkly contrasted by loving, warm and generous ones. You will follow Victor and Bull as they experience pain and sorrow as well and joy and love.
Anonymous 10 months ago
A not so deep, Deep look into the mind of the bullied and the bully. But maybe only in a fictional world doesn't it work out this well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Over all I loved this book and have read it about 4 times. I wish that there was a sequel. It gives a great demonstration of perspective. And it is also very realistic because like in the real world they may not make up at the end but things still turn out better for both of them. I would definitely recommend this to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked it. Honestly. As a person with mental health issues and who has been in and out of psych wards, I didn't know what I was  expecting, but I have to say I enjoyed the book. Some inconsistencies to what group therapy and psych wards  are actually like, at least in my experiences, but overall it was a good read. You really felt  for and with the characters. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I Loved This Book !!!! It Was So Deep And It Was A Page Turner , There Was So Much Details That I Enjoyed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutley adored this book. The plot and characters went hand in hand and it was so heartbreaking. The ending fit the story perfectly, I reccomend this to anybody who likes mental hospital books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book really touched on the subjects of bullying, abuse &amp; psychiatric facilities. The subject of abuse was seen in two ways &amp; from two different perspectives. It gave the readers a look @ what goes in a teenager&rsquo;s world. I really liked the author and would recommend this book &amp; other books by the author to all reader
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book i could really relate to. It gives you a whole new outlook on life and how important it is. Also it shows, even if yoi think you want to die you can over come that and start to be happy. All you need is a little push in the right direction and some help.
Michey4996 More than 1 year ago
i loved all of it , The book was amazing and some of it i could kind of relate not all but i would recommend this to ANY one my age 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I know this author, she came to my camp today and i have het autograph. Plus this is a really good book. And she has a new one coming out called empty.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a great book. Really is motivation. Tells everyone that they are worth somthing.
code7r More than 1 year ago
&ldquo;Cracked&rdquo; by K. M. Walton is the story of two teenage boys who have grown up together. One of them, Bull, has bullied Victor ever since they were small. The book alternates chapters between Bull and Victor. We learn that Bull lives with a drunken grandfather who constantly beats him and a mother who thinks he should have never been born. He takes his anger about his situation on the kids in school, especially Victor. Bull is from the poor side of town; Victor is from the wealthy side. We learn that Victor&rsquo;s life with his parents is just as abusive, but emotionally and mentally, not physically. Victor decides that the answer to his problems is a handful of sleeping pills; Bull decides his answer to his constant beatings is with a gun. Both boys end up in the psych ward for children who try suicide. Both end up in the same room. The question is: will Bull and Victor be able to understand each other and not kill each other for the five days they are stuck together? For a debut novel, K. M. did a masterful job of making the reader feel empathy for both characters. Alternating chapters to tell each character&rsquo;s point of view shows that you may think you know someone, but you never really do. I think that a poem in the book really sums up what Bull and Victor are feeling: Children want to be loved Cherished Without conditions Restrictions Limitations Or boundaries A child&rsquo;s spirit is a fragile thing a hollow egg delicate and easy to shatter Some wait to be filled with direction hope Someone wait for no one they fill themselves up This book is written for young adults and I think that anyone who is a teenager and above would enjoy this book. The author tries to let in the reader as to why some people kids feel that suicide is the answer. They feel alone and that no one understands what they are feeling. Sometimes they just need to know that someone cares. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading any more novels that K. M. Walton will write.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was recommended to me by my sister, who knows a family member of the author. I purchased it as the storyline intrigued me but didn't have any major expectations. I didn't expect to finish it in a day but that's what I did. I really enjoyed getting to know the characters and seeing them through their journey. Awesome how it ends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy read about two high school boys, one is the bully the other is the victim. They have different and unfortunate home lives, but they end up at the same psych ward in the same room for 5 days.