Mickey Catalan is everybody’s daughter. Star catcher on her high school softball team, she’s so well known that the emergency room staff recognizes her when she’s brought in after the car accident that pops her hip right out of its socket, an injury the doctor illustrates by dismembering a Barbie doll. In Mindy McGinnis’ agonizing, essential novel “Heroine,” Mickey is prescribed oxycodone for her pain; after five days, she’s almost out of pills. She should have two weeks’ worth left.

Soon that won’t be a problem. When her doctor won’t give her a refill, she’s approached in the parking lot by a woman who drives a van for senior citizens. Edith offers her a white pill. “First one’s free … after that it’s a dollar a milligram.” Mickey rationalizes that she needs the pain relief to get through her physical therapy and strength conditioning; her teammates depend on her to help them reach the playoffs, where college scouts might see them. Then she’ll quit.

Soon Mickey is visiting Edith at her home, where she meets other customers. They become a little family headed by a lonely widow who serves them homemade meatloaf and cupcakes and sells them 80-milligram oxycodone pills. Mickey starts thinking hard about where she can get the money for more drugs and how to cover the signs of withdrawal when she can’t pay. She moves on to snorting and injecting the oxycodone and then to heroin purchased from a stranger at a truck stop.

McGinnis lays out the stark desperation and the misery known as dope sick. After Mickey wakes up in a basement with her three buddies dead of an overdose, she tries to put it out of her mind so she can focus on her senior district tournament and not get arrested or worse.

The publisher recommends the book for readers 14 and older, but this harrowing narrative should and must be read by parents. Far from exploitative, its too-familiar story is one that must be told.

“Heroine” (432 pages, hardcover) costs $17.99 from Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of Harper Collins. Mindy McGinnis is a graduate of Otterbein University; she lives in Cardington, in Morrow County. Her “A Madness So Discreet” won the 2016 Edgar Award in the Best Young Adult category.

Events

Loganberry Books (13015 Larchmere Blvd., Shaker Heights): Angela Crook of Cleveland signs “Chasing Navah,” about a woman trying to rebuild her life after her involvement with drugs and the wrong man, 1 p.m. Sunday; Cleveland native Salvatore Scibone, whose “The End” was a finalist for the National Book Award, discusses his novel “The Volunteer,” 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Bay Village branch, 502 Cahoon Road): Scott Longert discusses “Bad Boys, Bad Times: The Cleveland Indians and Baseball in the Pre-War Years," 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday. Register at 440-871-6392.

Akron-Summit County Public Library (Firestone Park branch, 1486 Aster Ave.): Salvatore Scibone discusses “The Volunteer,” 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

Muggswigz Coffee & Tea Bar (137 Walnut Ave. NE, Canton): Don Ake signs his book of humorous essays “Will There Be Free Appetizers? Musings of a Brilliant Idiot,” 8 to 9 p.m. Friday.

Barnes & Noble (28801 Chagrin Blvd., Woodmere): Caitlin Ambrose joins Storytime, reading from and signing “Happy Tails: To the Beach!,” 11 a.m. Saturday; Deborah Plummer signs “Some of My Best Friends Are … The Daunting Challenges and Untapped Benefits of Cross-Racial Friendships," 2 p.m. Saturday.

Learned Owl Book Shop (204 N. Main St., Hudson): Scott Longert signs “Bad Boys, Bad Times,” 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Visible Voice Books (2258 Professor Ave., Cleveland): Nancy Christie, author of “Rut-Busting Book for Writers” and others, leads “Jump-Start Your Creativity” workshop and signs her works, 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The fee is $25. Register at visiblevoicebooks.com.

Advance notice: Register for Elaine Weiss, who will discuss and sign “The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote” on March 16 at the Hudson Library & Historical Society. Call 330-653-6658 or visit hudsonlibrary.org.

 

Send information about books of local interest to Lynne Sherwin, Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or lsherwin@thebeaconjournal.com. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.