Fact or Fiction: The Heroin Diaries + Heroine

Posted September 22, 2020 by shooting in Book Review / 15 Comments

I actually created a new feature earlier this year that I called Fiction/Non-Fiction, but I didn’t love the title, so I reached out for ideas and someone suggested Fact or Fiction which makes way more sense and it’s easier to say. So welcome to my second Fact or Fiction post, where I share reviews for two books around the same topic – one is fiction, and the other is nonfiction. (links are affiliate; I get a small percent of any purchase at no extra cost to you)

Fact or Fiction: The Heroin Diares by Nikki Sixx and Heroine by Mindy McGinnis

The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star by Nikki Sixx and Ian Gittins

Review by Lauren

Source: personal copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Set against the frenzied world of heavy metal superstardom, the co-founder of Motley Crue offers an unflinching and gripping look at his own descent into drug addiction. It follows him during the year he plunged to rock bottom and his courageous decision to pick himself up and start living again.

Review: Whether you are a fan of Motley Crue or not, I think The Heroin Diaries was still a really fascinating celebrity memoir. There is plenty of behind-the-scenes information, but the main focus of The Heroin Diaries is to chronicle the year that Nikki Sixx really did hit rock bottom from his drug abuse. The rest of the band was on one drug or another – and alcohol – but Sixx was the one who went all out with heroin. He helped form the band though, and he wrote the lyrics, so they weren’t going to kick him out.

What I loved about this book is that it’s actually the diaries of Nikki Sixx. He kept them throughout this entire year and it’s easy to see him slowly losing it. He stops drugs, and then he starts up again. He’s paranoid and yet he knows, in the end, it’s the drugs that are affecting him and he needs to stop. Instead of just being a straightforward diary, Sixx adds in his commentary (as well as the commentary from band managers, security, band members, etc.) and it gives a years-later added perspective, which really makes the book.

It’s easy to see why Sixx became addicted to drugs, but it’s also very clear that he will end up dead if he doesn’t truly get help. He’s not a perfect person – by any means – but he lays it all out in The Heroin Diaries, and I have to commend that. The book is full of crazy black and red illustrations, printed on glossy pages, and broken up into months as the “chapters” in the book. Definitely one of the more unique celebrity memoirs I’ve seen, and I would recommend to those interested!

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis

Review by Lauren

Source: library copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: When a car crash sidelines Mickey just before softball season, she has to find a way to hold on to her spot as the catcher for a team expected to make a historic tournament run. Behind the plate is the only place she’s ever felt comfortable, and the painkillers she’s been prescribed can help her get there.

The pills do more than take away pain; they make her feel good.

With a new circle of friends—fellow injured athletes, others with just time to kill—Mickey finds peaceful acceptance, and people with whom words come easily, even if it is just the pills loosening her tongue.

But as the pressure to be Mickey Catalan heightens, her need increases, and it becomes less about pain and more about want, something that could send her spiraling out of control.

Review: Heroine was one of the seven nominated books in the YA Fiction category for the Cybils Awards, which I helped judge. It’s also the second book by McGinnis that I’ve read (the first was A Madness So Discreet). I love that McGinnis is able to write about different topics and timelines and do well in all of them. Heroine is a very timely story. Mickey is a catcher on her high school softball team, but a car crash has her sidelined. It’s her senior year though, and she’s desperate to get back out there. She doesn’t want to be replaced, she doesn’t want to have to deal with the horrible pain in her hip from the accident. She’s prescribed Oxycontin after her surgery, but she soon finds herself craving the pain relief, as well as the high, of Oxy, and she finds a supplier to keep giving her the drug.

I could understand Mickey’s reasoning for taking the Oxy long after she should have been. She tells herself that it’s just to get through the rest of softball and then she’ll wean herself off. She tells herself that she was prescribed Oxy in the first place, even if she’s no longer getting it from the doctor. It helps her, and she’s soon playing again. It’s not perfect, but it’s working.

This soon leads to heroin, as opioid abuse often does. Heroin gives you a high quicker than Oxy, and it’s cheaper, which makes it a suitable replacement for Mickey (and her new friend in addiction, Josie). However, with heroin, it takes more and more to get the same high you had when you first tried it. It makes Mickey more addicted, and she can’t lie to herself as easily anymore once she starts doing heroin. I think McGinnis does a great job of allowing the reader to follow Mickey on her journey. It’s easy to see how she got addicted, and it makes you realize that it could be anyone you know. Drug addiction is a big issue in the United States, especially in Ohio, where this book is set, and it affects people from all backgrounds. After all, heroin abuse doesn’t tend to start out that way…it’s usually injuries and pain that lead to subscription drugs, and when that addiction can no longer be met, people go for the harder stuff (that’s sadly easier to get in many cases).

There are a lot of details about Mickey’s drug use, and how she feels when she’s high, so if that’s something that would make you too uncomfortable, you might want to steer clear of Heroine. I did appreciate that the beginning of the book has a warning for addicts and recovering addicts. For anyone interested, I highly recommend this book!!

15 responses to “Fact or Fiction: The Heroin Diaries + Heroine

  1. Heroine sounds fascinating, but as I get queasy very easily around drug use (even insulin shots!), I’ll probably have to give it a pass. Very cool review format 😉

  2. I love this idea, what a great comparison. I’ve never read The Heroin Diaries, but Heroine was an excellent book, and it’s one I still think about!

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