Tuesday, December 06, 2011


Author Adrienne Vrettos hasn't disappointed me yet. I think my favorite of her titles will always be Skin, a novel about a young man whose older sister dies of anorexia, but Burnout, her newest, definitely delivers. I flew through this book in an afternoon. The author just has a way of hooking the reader. In this one, the main character, Nan, has such a strong voice and her predicament is so worrisome that you just have to know what is happening. Or, more precisely, what has happened. Nan wakes up on the subway not knowing how she has gotten there. The entire previous night is a blackout. She has scratches on her arms and someone has written the words "help me" across her chest. She's wearing a tight pink dress, doesn't have shoes, and her face is a mess of Halloween makeup. Nan can't have blacked out though. She went to rehab and she doesn't abuse alcohol and drugs anymore. She doesn't even hang out with her best friend because the time they spend together is invariably poisonous for a girl trying to kick bad habits. But clearly something bad happened last night, and as Nan slowly puts the pieces of the puzzle together, she realizes that the stakes are higher than she could have dreamed.

The slow unraveling of the mystery pulls the reader along, a sense of dread developing with each page.
At the very, very end it felt like the author got a little vague where I would have liked her to be specific, but the reader has the solution to the mystery, and our main character gets to test her courage and her strength. Note on that: I loved that Nan was a larger-sized girl. It's a theme that runs throughout the book. Nan's former best friend is petitie, cute and enticing while she refers to Nan as a "woolly mammoth." Body type becomes more than a psychological hurdle for Nan as the story unfolds.

If you haven't discovered Adrienne Vrettos yet, give her a try. With the exception of Sight, her books are gritty realistic fiction with characters you can identify with, even if you've never had their specific problems. Sight has a paranormal twist, a main character who has psychic abilities and a killer stalking a small town.

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