Review: Heroine by Mindy McGinnis (*tw: addiction*)

Hey guys it’s Trina and today I’m
reviewing Heroine by Mindy McGinnis. This is her latest YA novel. Heroine is
addressing the opioid epidemic in the United States. This is following a
teenage character named Mickey Catalan who is like a star baseball player for
her high school. She’s in a very small town, everyone knows who she is because
their team is like really good and she’s part of why the team is really good. She
is the catcher. Mickey and the pitcher on the team are best friends and they get
into a car accident one night and the pitcher breaks her arm and Mickey breaks
her leg. Her hip has a lot of damage to it and it’s going to be a long road of
physical therapy just to recover from this injury. She is prescribed an opioid
to manage her pain and because the baseball season is about to start and
Mickey is relying on her reputation and her spot on the team to get scholarships
for college she needs to be part of the season. She
wants to be back into playing, physical shape by the time that the season starts
and the doctors say that her physical therapy won’t really get her there until
after the season starts so she is trying to push her body to hurry up and get
back on the team and in order to do this she is doing more physically on her hip
and her leg than she should be, so it causes more pain, so she takes more of
the pain medication than she should be. And Mickey, she is affected by a
substance use disorder and she becomes addicted to it and the book talks about
what happens when her prescription runs out. What does she do then because she is
now reliant on this drug and she is misusing it with the intention of, you
know, her whole future could come crashing down if she’s not part of the
team. What I love about this book so much is that you can really really see um how
she’s torn and how like yeah you know Mickey I don’t want you to be doing this
and making these decisions. I wish you weren’t affected in this way, but oh my
gosh I understand your hopes and your dreams and the way that your future
feels like it’s on the line. Like you really could feel that for her and feel
why she was making the choices that she made. This book does come with a
trigger warning right at the beginning. Mindy herself has written a couple of
authors notes in here. There are also resources at the end of the book for
people who may be struggling with addiction. I also want to note here that
I am not a professional. I don’t work with addiction recovery, I don’t work in
the mental health field and I have a pretty basic knowledge of substance use
disorders. I do know people who have been affected by them but we don’t really
talk about it in depth. If I use terms incorrectly please correct me in the
comments. I am trying my best to keep that in mind. I don’t want you to look to
me as like a professional or anything, as the person to look to on opinions of
this. So this is my review as someone who is not affected by a substance use
disorder and who doesn’t work with addiction recovery in any way. So you
know, I may get some information wrong but I did talk to a couple of friends I
know that do work in recovery and we discussed different aspects of the book
and that actually made me come away with a much more positive feeling about the
book than I did before. I mean I had great respect for the book but now I
feel like I have even more. The way that they helped me talk through some things
and showed me like the things that the book was doing right. That’s not to say
that I can vouch for this book as being 100% completely accurate and inoffensive
in any way but I just want to give you guys some background about my position
going into this book. Like I said, Mindy did put a trigger warning at the
beginning of the book. She says she does not recommend this book for readers who
are currently recovering or are recovered from addiction. Some of the
specific triggers that this book deals with are of course pain medication, pain
pills, snorting, heroin, shooting up heroin with needles, and injection. It deals with
overdose, death by overdose, and it deals with withdrawal symptoms which are
described in pretty great detail and part of that that is included – I’ve seen
some reviews saying they didn’t like this – it deals a lot with her bowel
movements and the way that her digestion, like you know, vomit and pooping are
affected by withdrawal. It definitely shows you
what withdrawal is like and why someone who is misusing a drug would want to
continue misusing it to avoid those symptoms. I really think the purpose of
this book and where it shines is in kind of educating the outsiders, the
people who have very negative stereotypes about people with addiction
and this breaks down those stereotypes and it shows this character as a person
that you can relate to, that you can empathize with. You understand her
motivation for everything and this is how easy it is for something like this
to really affect a person’s life from just being injured and being given a
very legal prescription, where it could go if someone may be affected by a
substance use disorder. One of the parallels that I enjoyed in this book is
how Mickey and her best friend are completely different, like they have
completely different reactions to the painkillers at first. Like her best
friend Carolina is not affected at all, she doesn’t become addicted, she doesn’t
want any more of the medication, she doesn’t need it. After she’s done, after
she completes her physical therapy, that’s it for her. It’s over. She can
very easily stop. I kind of would have liked to have seen that explored a
little bit more. I think I would have liked more emphasis on the mental health
side of things. I do think that I got a bit of a better understanding about some
of the things in the book by speaking with my friends who work with recovering
people. That’s not to say that the book is lacking because it started a
conversation. It started a really great discussion and I really hope that people
who do read this, that it continues to start discussions. Besides the addiction aspect I really enjoyed Mickey as a character and I
really liked the writing. You guys know I’m a Mindy McGinnis fan. I have read
every single one of her books – I have not loved all of them [laughs]. Of the three
contemporaries of hers that she’s written, I’ve read all three of them, writing wise this is my favorite. I think I like
Female of the Species a little bit more because of, you know, I had more personal
experience with seeing and being a victim of rape culture and so it had a little
bit more of a personal meaning to me, but writing-wise I remember not really
liking some of the point of views in that book. I think that Heroine has a
very focused viewpoint and it is very easy to read. It was – just it flowed well
without being shallow. It is a book that I would recommend. It is a book that I
respect, that I really liked, that has stuck with me so much and has spurred so
many different conversations and discussions. I remember like I was
only a few chapters in and I started just gushing to my husband like oh my
gosh look what this book is doing, look at all this understanding that it has
given me. And so for that I have a great appreciation and respect for this book
and I would definitely recommend it. Again just please heed that trigger warning. I think that this book does a lot of good.
It has a really good intent and I just want readers to be careful going
into it but if this is a subject that you want to read about, if you wouldn’t
be triggered by it, I definitely would recommend it. I hope that this review – I
haven’t done a single book review in a long time so excuse me if this was very
very messy but I just wanted to give you guys an overview of what I thought this
book was doing right and what you should be cautious of and hopefully this has let
you know if it’s one that you want to read. Thank you guys so much for watching.
If you want to discuss anything further or if you have any other questions for me
definitely leave those down in the comments and I will see you there. [music only]

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