Heroine – book review

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by Mindy McGinnis
Realistic Fiction
* * * * * Stars (Amazing)

Mickey Catalan is a star softball player (catcher) and she and her best friend Carolina (pitcher) are an unbeatable team. Until the car accident. Carolina’s pitching arm gets injured, and Mickey’s hip is practically torn out of her body. Both are looking at weeks if not months of recovery time and spring training starts soon. Determined to be ready for the season (and their senior year and the college scouts – their team is that good), the young women push themselves through their physical therapy. Prescribed Oxytocin by her doctor, Mickey discovers that she can manage both the pain of her injury and her social awkwardness (socializing has never been her strong point), and soon she’s blown through her prescription – two weeks early – and is shaking and ill from withdrawal symptoms. When her doctor won’t prescribe more Oxy, Mickey fortuitously bumps into Edith, an older woman who recognizes her condition and offers to help her. She’s got a little side business going as an Oxy dealer to supplement her income, and treats her customers (Josie and Mickey, and their friends Derrick and Victor) like her own grandkids. Mickey doesn’t see any of this as a problem. She needs Oxy to remain a top tier player. As her addiction takes hold, it also takes control of her life. Oxy is all Mickey can think about – when she can take more, how she can finance more (cleaning out her bank account, stealing from her family). Edith’s supply dries up suddenly, however, and in desperation Josie and Mickey research an alternative option – heroin. It’s cheaper and, according to Josie, has the same chemical structure. Plus, her older sister can hook them up. After her first heroin injection, Mickey doesn’t care anymore about anything except the drug. She thinks she’s managing her use so she can perform well at softball games, but more often than not she’s distracted or sick or sluggish. Doesn’t matter. People are noticing, though. Noticing that there’s something different about Mickey Catalan.

This was really hard-hitting. It shows exactly how addictive Oxytocin and heroin can be and how destructive. There’s no telling who might become an addict either. Carolina is also on Oxy for pain management, but it doesn’t affect her the same way. It is no picnic watching Mickey Catalan self-destruct, but her story is gripping from beginning (where she’s just realized that all of her friends have overdosed) to end (returning to the park ball field after a stint in a methadone clinic). This is a 2021 Lincoln Award nominee.

Reviewed by YA Librarian

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