Mindy McGinnis’ Heroine goes above and beyond what a typical YA fiction does. It gets rid of character stereotypes, depicts the alienating nature of adolescence, shows the disconnect between parents and children, all the while narrating a heartrending story about a softball player battling opioid addiction.
Mickey Catalan finds herself at crossroads when an accident injures her leg, making it improbable for her to be fit in time for the game season. A brief stint with pain medication goes horribly wrong when Mickey internalizes the notion that her recovery affects a lot of people and that in order to appease them, she must heal fast.
There are a lot of things I loved about this book. The writing, which is equal parts descriptive and dialogue-driven, the friendships that stem from a place of suitability but grow to mean much more, the raw portrayal of the implications of opioid addiction and the ease with which the story seeps into your heart. But here are some aspects of the novel that I would particularly commend the author for:
- The author does not make a moral statement about the issue. She presents the scenarios and allows us to form our own opinion.
- Without being too accusatory, she helps us identify the ability of one individual to change the entire trajectory of someone else’s life.
- The characters in this book are defined by their choices and actions and so the culpability rests with them. There’s no seeking of pity or displacing blame.
- The ending helps tie loose ends and is not ambiguous.
- Every chapter begins with a word and the definition of the word. This works wonders in keeping us glued to the book as it acts as forewarning of what’s probably about to happen.
In terms of characterization, I appreciated the way Mickey has been sketched. Her struggles and insecurities are realistic no matter how much you think that she could’ve prevented all the troubles. I wish she and Carolina had been on better terms. I wish Edith (and people like her) realize how devastating their actions can be for someone else. I had a feeling that Mickey and Luther would’ve been great together; would’ve loved to read more scenes with them.
Some of you may have issues with this book on account of ethical grounds. Yes, Mickey makes a few mistakes and while they are not ones you could brush aside with ease, you should understand that this book does not claim to represent perfect people.
Usually with YA books that have a high-school setting, we don’t get to read a lot about any one character’s passion/interests. But in this we actually witness how Mickey, Carolina and the others exist in a highly competitive, sports environment. Their identities as athletes is a crucial part of this story. I couldn’t set the book down. I was just so immersed by the storytelling. This is a perfect example of how it is important to understand what someone might be going through and be sensitive about it.
On the whole, this is such an evocative read and I’m not going to stop recommending it to everyone I know.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★