Mickey Catalan and her best-friend Carolina are the stars of their high school’s softball team, catcher and pitcher respectively. It’s their senior year, with college and scholarships on the horizon. Then the car accident. Catalina’s arm is busted and Mickey winds up with two screws in her hip. Desperate to push herself in physical therapy to be ready for the upcoming season Mickey begins taking just a bit more Oxycontin than prescribed – just enough to deal with the pain. When she runs out early, and her doctor won’t prescribe more to her though, she starts buying from other sources. But she’s a star athlete, training to be at the top of her game for her team, she’s not a strung out junkie, she’s not an addict, with her only goal being her next high (until maybe it is).
McGinnis makes it easy to understand Mickey’s spiral. First for the pain management, then her supplier is an older woman who not only sells her oxy, but also gives her a warm meal and a new set of friends – and that’s not how real junkies take drugs. As her supplier’s stash dwindles and Mickey’s money runs out, moving on to actual heroin for financial reasons is easy to justify (especially when Mickey is is in withdrawal). The time and energy devoted to softball on the page is slowly eclipsed by descriptions of the high and how Mickey feels waiting for it, until softball is just this extra element in Mickey’s life and heroin is the main attraction – no longer just the little boost she needs to get her team to state.
A book that opens with “All my friends are dead”, is bound to be bleak. All the reasons Mickey comes up with why her and her friends aren’t really junkies won’t bring them back. Mickey’s story isn’t just hers and what separates the girl who stops taking her oxy when the prescription runs out and the one who finds a way to get more isn’t much.