Friday, December 16, 2011

Burnout: Adrienne Maria Vrettos

Burnout is the story of Nan, a teenage girl who wakes up the morning after Halloween with no recollection of the night before. She wakes up on subway train wearing make up and a costume she doesn't remember. The problem is, while this would not have been unusual for Nan six months ago, she has since been through rehab, confronting her demons and leaving blackouts in the past. I was instantly intrigued by the idea of this mystery, so I was very excited when I won this book from GoodReads FirstReads.

At the heart of this novel is a girl who, I think, just wants to be good. Her home life is kind of a mess, so when she meets outrageous Seemy, Nan desparately wants to be her friend. Where Nan is big boned and amazon-esque, Seemy is petite and lithe. Nan is grounded and steady; Seemy is flighty and spontaneous. Nan falls in love with Seemy who prefers to avoid complex emotions in favor of one-night-stands with losers. Friendship with Seemy means skipping school to get drunk in the movie theater, or stand guard while she hooks up with a random guy in their sacred Carriage House. Despite it being a damaging friendship, Nan hangs on tightly to the lively girl who makes her feel special. Nan is a relatable character--most people, at one time or another, have been willing to forego rationality for the sake of affection from someone they love. For this reason, I care about Nan and how she came to wake up from a blackout after so many months in recovery.

I don't want to ruin the mystery, but I will say that not every question is answered...much like real life. There is some real terror in this story, inducing a heartwrenching kind of ache for these girls who are making choices that will impact their lives in significant ways. It's a fast read with memorable characters. Vrettos deserves the many accolades she has received this year for her stellar writing.

Rating: $$.5

Received courtesy of GoodReads FirstReads.