Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Vrettos, A.M. (2011.) Burnout. NY: Margaret K. McElderry Books.
YA / Mystery

QuickNEasy, 193 pages, ages 12-17

I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

Told in alternating viewpoints "Today" and "Remembering," we get the picture of our main character, Nan, who's been through rehab and sworn off drinking, only to find herself in a place she doesn't remember, in clothes she doesn't remember wearing, having blackouts and nausea as the realization that she's fallen off the wagon washes over her.

Nan is a very well-written, realistic character. She struggles with her body image and yearns for friendship and acceptance.  In steps Seemy, who initially is the answer to Nan's prayers but eventually becomes a negative influence through her self-centered and destructive behavior.  Nan is smart enough to be able to recognize the emptiness of the friendship, but she has nothing else.

I was not satisfied with the lack of information about Seemy -- there were a lot of unanswered questions by the end, and how things played out seemed a little unrealistic.  Nan's actions didn't make sense given the circumstances, but I did like that Nan found her inner strength -- that needed to happen.

The writer did a very good job of conveying blackouts, which was a pretty powerful reminder that whatever Nan had done was still in her system and could cause permanent damage. It made it scarier that even though she seemed to be distanced from the danger, it was really right inside her still.

On the Clean-O-Meter rating, it's probably an 8 out of 10.  The subject matter of alcohol, drug use, and addiction is handled without a lot of details.  There is some minor swearing, and though it's clear Seemy is sexually active, there aren't details. Really, that sums up everything that could be controversial -- it's in there, but it's just mentioned and not spelled-out in any way, making this pretty safe reading.

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