by K. M. Walton


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In this gripping debut, a teen takes a bottle of pills and lands in the psych ward with the bully who drove him to attempt suicide.

Victor hates his life. He’s relentlessly bullied at school and his parents constantly ridicule him at home.

Bull is angry. He’s sick of his grandfather’s drunken beatings. And he likes to take out his rage on Victor.

Determined to end it all, Victor takes a bottle of his mother’s sleeping pills—only to be disappointed when he wakes up in the psych ward. And his roommate? None other than Bull, whose loaded-gun effort at self-defense has been labeled as a suicide attempt. Things go from bad to worse—until the boys discover they might just have something in common: a reason to live.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442429178
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 12/04/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 365,049
Product dimensions: 5.66(w) x 8.04(h) x 0.88(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

K. M. Walton is the author of Cracked and Empty. A former middle school language arts teacher and teaching coach, she is passionate about education and ending peer bullying. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family. Visit her online at and follow her on Twitter at @KMWalton1.

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.

  • Reading Group Guide

    A Reading Group Guide to

    By K.M. Walton

    Discussion Questions

    1. Who do you think had worse parents, Bull or Victor? Why do you think that?

    2. Who do you think made the most personal growth by the end of the book, Bull or Victor? Explain.

    3. Do you think Bull or Victor would have survived if they hadn’t ended up in the psych ward? Why or why not?

    4. Who do you think influenced Bull the most? How about Victor?

    5. If you met Victor right now, what would you say to him? How about Bull?

    6. Put yourself in Victor’s shoes. What would you do differently? The same? How about if you were in Bull’s shoes? Explain your answers.

    7. At what point in Cracked do you feel Bull grows as a human being? How about Victor? What makes you think that?

    8. Think of one prediction you had while reading the book and reflect on it. Did it happen? If not, what happened instead? How did making the prediction and reflecting on it help you to understand the book better?


    1. Write a letter to Victor or Bull as if he were your best friend. What would you tell him?

    2. Describe the part in Cracked that impacted you the most.

    3. Describe the most courageous part of Cracked. Explain it in detail. What made this scene/part so daring?

    4. Make a connection between Cracked and your own life, another story, or something in the world. Write about this connection in detail—describe the relation and why it is so significant. How did making that connection help you to understand the book better?

    5. Write about a time when you faced a challenge and how you dealt with it.

    6. Which characters in Cracked took a risk for something they believed in? Why did they take these risks?

    7. How do Bull and Victor show courage? Choose two experiences and explain.

    8. Make a compare/contrast chart or Venn diagram comparing/contrasting Bull and Victor. How are they alike? How are they different?

    9. Choose a scene from Cracked and rewrite it as a film script.

    10. Make a collage of images and words to represent the main idea of Cracked or one of the characters.

    11. Write an interview between you and one of the characters from Cracked about their courageous experience. Be sure to use details from the book.

    12. Write a news bulletin about a major event in Cracked. Be sure to include all of the necessary details – Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?

    13. Draw a portrait of one of the main characters from Cracked. Make your drawing based on the character’s descriptions written by the author. Label your drawing with key descriptions that apply to the character.

    14. Write a detailed summary of your favorite part in Cracked. Explain why it is your favorite. Then, rewrite the scene but change something about it – the characters involved, the setting, the problem, the outcome, etc. Or rewrite the scene from the point of view of another character in the story.

    15. Think of an experience in your life when you showed/displayed courage. How did you feel when you finally reached your goal? How is this similar to a character(s) in Cracked?

    16. Write instructions on how to be courageous. Use details from Cracked to help you.

    17. The characters’ feelings often changed throughout Cracked, especially when they faced challenges. Make a chart to show how the character’s feelings changed from the beginning, to the middle, and then finally in the end. Be sure to explain why the change happened each time.

    18. Choose someone you think is courageous, such as a friend, family member, or public figure. Brainstorm a list of adjectives to describe the person. Using your brainstormed list, describe the person in a collage with pictures, words, and/or phrases.

    19. Choose three adjectives that describe a courageous person and write a paragraph or poem explaining courage.

    20. Write a letter from one of the main characters to yourself as if you are friends. The letter can ask for advice, or describe a problem or experience.

    Guide written by the author.

    This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

    Customer Reviews

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    Cracked 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 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.
    HeatherMS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    ¿Cracked¿ 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¿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¿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 lovedCherishedWithout conditionsRestrictionsLimitationsOr boundariesA child¿s spirit is a fragile thinga hollow eggdelicate and easy to shatterSome wait to be filledwith directionhopeSomeone wait for no onethey fillthemselvesupThis 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 is a very beautiful story about depression and abuse that has a wonderful ending. I absolutely loved it and would always recommend it as a good read. Once I picked it up I could not put it back down! Great author!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    There are a few things you can do. <p> 1. Get a pet-sitter or put your dog in a doggy day care place. <br> 2. Tend to your dog before ad fter you get bcak. <br> 3. Buy a large crate. Then, put thick blankets, a water bowl and few chewwy toys in there so he can drink. If he pe<_>es, don't worry. Wash the blankets on a weekly basis (best option). <br> 4. Give your pup chew toys. They calm them down and give them something to do. <br> 5. Keep him outside (this prevents him pe<_>eing in the house. But, ONLY DO THIS AFTER HE IS LARGER THAN 30 POUNDS. There is a food chain. I lost 4 cats in one month doing that. Hoi.) <p> I hoped thishelped! A large create works best, tbh. It gets 'em potty tained and it's a place they call their own.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    So Im getting a puppy the day after christmas FINALLY, but the problem is that after winter break when my parents go back to work and I school, no one will be home to walk it. I want to know, is there anytbing I can do with her while were away? I usually come back from school at around 2:50. Im also the first one home since my sis is still in elementary. IF ANYONE HAS A DOG OR PUPPY, PLEASE AWNSER AND HWLP ME OUT <p> Also our baby is 9 weeks, labradoodle, blue eyes and brown coat :) with a chubby PUPPY TUMMY LIKE WHAAAAAT - Sasha
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I think my boyfrined is cheeting
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    If they found out, the best thing is to tell them its true. Sit down with your parents and talk it through. They may give you inspiration and advice. Mine? Count in your head how many people really love you. And go over reasons why they would want you to stop cutting. Im sure it would be a long list. Hope this helped! ~ pokemon girl
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Wow just...... wow..... ok something usefull 1. Sucide and cutting dont solve problems only make more 2. Get through your depressed times and in the end (when you on your own and stuff) if you try enough you will be happy 3. Sometimes some bad stuff can be good in the long run because it may affect the rest of your life in a good way example: bullied? Well you have learned what it feels like and might make you less likely to bully someone because you know how bad it can be and dont want someone else to expirence what you did which is good (i relieze this is pretty long but hoped i did something)
    yesiii_beans More than 1 year ago
    I stopped reading for a while but once I started reading this book I knew I was already in love with it. The descriptions the author gives and how the story ends is realistic.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    You guys all said that you were/are taking suicide into consideration. Here is a way you can get out of that range of thinking.<p> Everyone has someone they love deeply in their life, wether it be a friend of family member they have at least one person they love dearly. What if that person(s) came into the room that you had just cut your wrists or blown your head out with a gun? What would be thier reaction? Depending on the person they would cry, or say the person you love was your little sibiling. They would have that mental picture their entire lifes. You dont want to end your life because even if you end /your/ pain, you will cause never ending pain for your loved ones.<p> Just think about it. ~ PITP
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    O.k. so here I go: yesterday, i threw my friend camdens's coat in the air. He got mad and stole my hat. That broke off a fuzzy ball. I asked for it back. Then I reached for it. Camden bit me super hard. If i rat him out he will fight me. Also, the teachers think he is so good and perfect. But i cannot have him keep doing it. He is usually friendly hough. He is nice. But if things do not go his way.......
    Anonymous More than 1 year 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!