Want personalized picks that fit your family?

Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.

Get age-based picks

Heroine

Book review by
Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media
Heroine Book Poster Image
Honest, empathetic story of teen athlete's opioid addiction.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Extensive information on OxyContin and heroin addiction, including how addiction can happen, and how it affects users physically and emotionally. Narcan, methadone, and group therapy are discussed. Details on surgeries for injuries and the recovery process. Lots of detail on playing softball. Some Spanish words spoken.

Positive Messages

Help is available to you, even if you think you're all alone. Good friends and a loving family are invaluable. Be kind to yourself.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mickey's a smart, funny teenager. Even though her life spins out of control, at her core she's a good person. Her team friends, especially Carolina, clearly love her and make good decisions in their own lives. Mickey's family is loving and supportive. They make their mistakes, but they are there for her when it really matters.

Violence

Description of car accident and resulting injuries. Overdose deaths and bodies described.

Sex

Teen crushes, dating, and jokes about sex. Most romantic contact is limited to hugging or a quick kiss.

Language

Some swearing, but not frequent, including "f--k," "ass," "s--t," "bulls--t," "damn," "God," "hell" "Jesus," "dammit," "a--hole," "boobs," "butt," "bitch," "p---y." "d--k," "Goddammit," "pissed," and "Jesus Christ."

Consumerism

Products and media mentioned for scene-setting, including Capri Sun, Netflix, Buick, Coach, QVC, Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, McDonald's, and iPad.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Story is centered on a teenager's descent into addiction, so lots of OxyContin and heroin use is shown and discussed, including taking pills and shooting up. A parent drinks wine at home.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Heroine is about a 17-year-old-girl who gets addicted to opioids after a car accident. Mickey is desperate to heal from her injuries before the start of her final high school softball season and finds illegal ways of getting the painkiller OxyContin when her prescription runs out. Like so many other addicts, her use of opioids starts out legitimately, but the feeling she gets from them is too good to give up. Readers get a stark look at how quickly a "good" kid in the suburbs can be overtaken by addiction. Infrequent strong language includes "s--t" and "f---k." Sexual content is limited to teen crushes, dating, jokes about sex, hugging, a quick kiss. There are several scenes of drug use, including injection, descriptions of how drugs feel in the body, and the serious physical effects of withdrawal. The story provides many discussion topics on drug use, honesty, decision making, and America's opioid epidemic.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

HEROINE shines a light on the young people affected by America’s opioid crisis. Mickey Catalan is a good, well liked teen. She’s honest, hardworking, and a star of her championship softball team. In fact, softball is her life, her passion. When Mickey and her best friend get into a car serious accident, Mickey is anxious to recover in time to play her senior season and secure a spot on a college team. She’s prescribed OxyContin for her pain and discovers she loves the warm, painless cocoon the drug provides. Convincing herself that she should keep taking it until she’s back in shape and playing well, she betrays the trust of her family and friends to get the drug illegally. Her descent into addiction and her need to hide her drug use upends her relationships with those who love her. With her life and future on the line, Mickey needs to face some hard truths about her behavior and her health, but the drugs make it far too easy to ignore these important problems and let her life slip away.

Is it any good?

Written with stunning empathy and detail, this story of a teen girl's descent into opioid addiction is gut-wrenching and eye-opening. In Heroine, author Mindy McGinnis does a great job of showing that drug addiction can happen to anyone. Mickey is an engaging and likeable main character. She's a smart, sweet kid who rationalizes her increasing usage, like so many other addicts do. At first she thinks can hold it together for her parents and teammates, but the reality of drug addiction is that it can spin out of control, which it eventually does in heartbreaking style for Mickey. Readers will get a good look at the allure of opioids: the enveloping comfort and bliss it brings to users. But the use of drugs is never romanticized, and the reality of what it does to bodies and lives is laid bare. The story runs to the long side and bogs down in spots, especially in the detailed passages about softball. A tighter story would have made this a real page turner. But that aside, this is an important, gripping book. Readers will not only gain insight into the opioid epidemic, but they will be rooting for Mickey to pull it together before it is too late. The author provides a list of resources for getting help with addiction recovery.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about drug addiction, especially among teens like Mickey in Heroine. Do you understand the way drugs affect your body and your brain? Have you thought about the fall-out from using drugs, beyond health and safety? Why do you think some people get addicted and some don't?

  • How do you feel about they way drug addiction is portrayed in books, television, and movies? Does reading about an ordinary, suburban kid getting addicted to drugs change the way you view people who use drugs?

  • Who are the most important people in your life? Do you feel you have people you can trust to help you with serious problems and secrets?

Book details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love coming-of age stories

Our editors recommend

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate