Heroine by Mindy McGinnis Book Review

Today, the Young Adult genre isn’t what it used to be ten years ago.

YA used to be ruled by dystopias and vampires. It definitely tended to follow the same tropes over and over again. YA didn’t have a good reputation and was not taken seriously because it was targeted towards young adults and wasn’t considered “real literature” because it didn’t have depth and they didn’t cover real and important issues that were happening in the world.

Today, the YA market is completely different. There’s diversity and there are plenty of different stories being published. The new range of topics brings light to often ignored issues. Most of the up and coming authors have used their voices to bring awareness to other issues that plague today’s society, that’s what Mindy McGinnis did with her novel Heroine.

As the title suggests, this book is about the opioid crisis that’s currently taking place in the United States. McGinnis explains that what inspired her to write this story was highly personal. Some years ago, McGinnis had surgery. She had been prescribed Oxycontin manage the pain and she took the medicine as instructed. The physical and emotional feeling that accompanied taking the medication made her realize how someone could easily become addicted to that pain killer. McGinnis didn’t become addicted, with some effort on her part,  but it inspired her to tell the story of someone who ended up becoming addicted.



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For her book writing process, she consulted a friend who was a counselor and had worked with people who were addicted. This friend allowed McGinnis to be as accurate as possible. She wanted to paint a picture that was as accurate as possible and without offending anyone

One of the ways in she's conscious of what addiction means is through the inclusion of a trigger warning. This is great because it’s highly triggering for someone who went through addiction and is recovering, or for someone who might have lost a loved one to addiction.

At first, I was hesitant going into this book because the opioid crisis is something that deeply upsets me. It breaks my heart that it isn’t treated seriously. People who have become addicted don’t receive the help and care that they deserve. They’re discarded as social outcasts and left to die. It’s a very rough topic, but I went in with an open mind. I really wanted to see what I could learn from this book.

The book follows Mickey Catalan, a star softball player who gets into a car accident alongside her best friend Carolina. The accident causes Mickey’s leg to be broken and Carolina’s arm. Both girls go into surgery and are prescribed pain medication. Naturally, they're scared and nervous. They’re worried about their future well-being. They also want to go through recovery as fast as possible since they want to participate in the upcoming softball season (they're being scouted for athletic scholarships!).

Carolina’s arm injury turns out to be less severe than Mickey’s leg injury. This means Mickey will take longer to heal and she’ll probably miss softball season. From that moment, Mickey makes the decision to do whatever it takes to make sure she can heal on time. What ends up happening is that the first time Mickey takes the Oxycontin, she feels a high that she’d never felt before. She believes that that pill will be able to heal her in time for softball season. We see how Mickey spirals out of control once her prescription runs out, she starts doing everything possible to get more pills, including befriending more addicts that could hook her up with more pills and stealing money and medication from others. Mickey’s journey goes downhill from there.

Addiction is a hard topic to handle, but this book handled it really well. Since the wondrous author had done the appropriate research and the topic was handled without bias or repulsion, it was treated the way it needed to be treated, as a disease that affects a lot of people and what they need is help and not be shunned and shoved away because of it. This book is incredibly poignant and it paints a picture about how addiction affects a person all the while they don’t realize that what they’re doing is dangerous and it will cause them to have severe consequences in the future.  

I also want to point out, that both Mickey and Carolina are of Puerto Rican descent and they both speak Spanish throughout the book. There’s Spanish dialogue in Spanish and it’s always awesome to find more books that have Spanish speaking characters and we get to see our mother tongue in books that are written in another language, it’s awesome and makes us feel seen, at least that’s what I think.

I think this book is very important and that everyone should read it because you might learn more about addiction and help you understand what goes through the mind of an addict. It was incredibly eye-opening.


Rating: 5/5