It starts with a legitimate painkiller prescription. How many times have we heard that? But unless you know someone personally affected by addiction, it can be hard to empathize. That’s what inspired Mindy McGinnis to write Heroine.
High school senior Mickey Catalan has spent all year waiting for softball season. Although she probably won’t be able to get a sports scholarship in her role as catcher, but her best friend and longtime pitcher Carolina is set for one. And Mickey’s grades are good enough to get her an academic scholarship to a school with a good softball team. Which is good. Softball has been their lives for years. They’re ready. Conditioning is set to start in a couple of months, and the games after that.
And then everything changed in an instant.
A car accident leaves Carolina’s arm is fractured and a handful of screws in Mickey’s hip. At first, Mickey needs the Oxy just to move. But as she starts pushing herself to get better in time for softball, she depends more and more on not just the pain relief that the pills provide but also the sense of peace and well-being. But that gets harder and harder to find, so Mickey has to figure out ways to get more pills, to find a better high.
As the weeks go on, Mickey’s life gets more and more complicated. Lying to her parents, lying to her friends, lying to her teammates, trying to keep up with her schoolwork, with her conditioning, with her growing addiction. As she starts to come apart at the seams, she has to deal with the consequences of her actions and face her teammates, her family, and ultimately, herself.
Heroine is a story of an American tragedy, told with bittersweet compassion. Most of us don’t have to reach far to find a story of someone who has struggled with addiction. Some recover. Some don’t. We all know this is a problem, but it’s so hard to know what to do, or even to believe our eyes when a close friend or family member starts to show the signs. Heroine helps us see the truth, helps us see the unraveling, and points us all toward ways we can help. It’s not an easy story to read, but it’s important, and I recommend it for anyone wanting to better understand addiction, how it starts, how it takes over, and how we don’t have to stand by helpless when it’s in our lives.
Galleys for Heroine were provided by HarperCollins Publishers, with many thanks.