Heroine by Mindy McGinnis
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on March 12th, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
“When I wake up, all my friends are dead.“
Mindy McGinnis wasn’t someone who I considered to be one of my favourite authors. But that changed after Heroine. And I think she’ll remain with that title after I read her other books too.
In Heroine, Mickey is an all-star softball player. When a car crash sidelines her just before softball season, she has to find a way to hold on to her spot as the catcher for a team that’s expected to make a historic tournament run. Behind the plate is the only place she feels comfortable, and the painkillers she’s been prescribed can help her get there.
The pills take away the pain, but they also make her feel good. Mickey finds peaceful acceptance with her new circle of friends—other injured athletes, others with time to kill—but the pressure to be Mickey Catalan heightens. Her need for pills increases and it becomes less about pain and more about want, something that could send her spiraling out of control.
I can’t wrap my head around the fact that McGinnis is the same person who wrote The Female of the Species.
It’s different in subject matter, types of characters, genre, and writing style. I love that she’s trying new things and doing a great job at it too. She’s writing very unique and interesting stories.
This book was a hard read. McGinnis goes into very graphic detail about drug use and needles. She doesn’t sugarcoat a single thing.
It’s emotionally draining to read this book, but it’s worth it when you get a close look at where Micky finds herself. You can see how easy it is to see how drugs are an attractive option to her. And you can pinpoint the slippery slope in which her need for painkillers becomes an obsession and turns her against her family, friends, and herself.
Right off the bat, McGinnis starts the novel at a breakneck speed. The first sentence is “When I wake up, all my friends are dead.” It’s such an arresting sentence that I had to read it again to make sure I read it correctly.
I am not a wasted person. I am not prowling the streets. I am not an addict. I am a girl spinning her locker combination. I am a girl who got a B on her math test. I am a girl who has two holes on the inside of her arm, but they do not tell the whole story of me.
The whole novel is laced with a sense of nervousness. We know what happens, but Mickey doesn’t. So we sit and observe the horror of what’s to come as it continues to build to this climax.
And McGinnis does a great job dispelling the myths around drug addiction. It can happen to anyone. It can happen to an all-star athlete trying to heal from her injuries.
I think what I appreciated the most was that Mickey or any of the other characters struggling with drug abuse are still humans beyond their addiction. It’s not a simple portrayal of addicts or drugs.
Beyond that, I liked the complexity of Mickey’s relationships. There’s an interesting dynamic between Mickey and her teammates, Mickey and her adopted parents, Mickey and her father’s new wife, and Mickey and her new friends. It shows all sides of a character and how she balances these relationships, how they evolve with her and her downward spiral.
I highly recommend Heroine for any contemporary fans and for people looking to understand addiction from a more nuanced portrayal.
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