Heroine by Mindy McGinnis

Rating : 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

(ARC provided by Edelweiss in exchange for a honest review)

Heroine was a hard book to read for me. It’s raw and brutal. It made me uncomfortable and itchy, almost claustrophobic. It just didn’t sit right with me.

Heroine tells the story of Mickey, a softball player, who gets into a car accident. An “innocent” prescription of Oxycontin makes Mickey want to “chase the dragon” meaning she wants to feel again the bliss of taking that first pill. But it’s never enough.

  •  First of all, Heroine doesn’t romanticize substance abuse. There’s not one hint of it and I really appreciated that. While being inside Mickey’s head, you realize the length she’s willing to go to to hide her addiction and to keep using. You keep being hopeful and nervous she’s going to get caught and it’s all going to stop. It doesn’t.
  • Even though it was heartbreaking to see her do this to herself, it was also really insightful and made me gain a new point of view when it comes to addiction. To be honest, I think that for most of my life, I had a very specific image of what being an addict meant. And I’m not trying to pretend that I have gained clear understanding about addiction from just reading one book about it. To me, it meant living in a filthy house, and being a bad, spiteful person. It gave me a new understanding of why Mickey choses to use and how quickly she gets caught up in that vicious circle, that famous “chasing the dragon” feeling. This could happen to anyone.
  • I really “liked” Mickey as a character because I think she’s not what we usually read about in YA, at least I didn’t. I think I’m so used to reading about “likable” characters and Mickey isn’t that. Not even talking about her addiction, I think Mickey is a really goal-driven, ambitious and passionate girl. She’s a bit rude (and it only gets worse) but I liked reading about a character who wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies.
  • The writing style was beautiful. (That first line had me shaken up). I like how McGinnis tackled each theme (academic pressure (it’s real, folks)). The story is hopeful but there’s no sugarcoating it. Recovery is hard (I liked Mickey’s relationship with Devra) and Mickey misses out on so much. Mickey’s addiction spirals out of her control, she loses her friends, she removes herself from the groups she loves so much, she steals from her mom while lying to her. She tries to justify it, make sense of it. 

I’m not used to reading heavy-themed books, so this was kind of a first for me. Diving into Mickey’s universe was, like I said, uncomfortable and felt wrong but I strongly believe that this is one of the reasons why this book is good.

It’s as much a cautionary tale as a realistic depiction of what can happen (what has happened and what is happening) with Oxy and how dangerous it can be. For me, one of the most heartbreaking scene in this entire book was when Carolina confronts Mickey and asks her why Mickey and not her and hopelessly, Mickey answers she doesn’t know. This left me speechless and made me understand things I didn’t before. So thank you for that Mindy McGinnis.

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