I really liked Arlie as an MC. She is strong and loyal, but living with and acting as carer to an addict has damaged her severely (as it would) and her mum’s death has left her with all these confused, angry emotions roiling round. She reminded me of a hedgehog - all prickly and curled up into a ball to protect herself from the world. She does some pretty dumb things on occasion, but on the whole she was a great MC.
The only aspect I didn’t really buy into was her relationship with Cody. Cody seemed sweet and I have to give props to the author for bringing in a love interest with a disability, but it felt a bit instalove-y and I thought it could have been developed a bit more before they decided they were in love.
On the other hand, her relationship with Mo was really well written. It’s rare to see a female friendship explored in such depth and it was interesting to see how both girls push the boundaries of their friendship. I also enjoyed reading about the development of Arlie’s relationship with Frank and how she learns to start trusting people and accepting that she now has a stable home life.
The author doesn’t pull any punches when describing what it’s like to live with an addict and I have to commend her for that. It would have been really easy to gloss over the skanky, dark parts of Arlie’s life, but the author doesn’t do that at all and it gives a real sense of how awful Arlie’s life must have been. From her mum’s all-weekend drug benders to waking up to strange people wandering through the house and being kissed by one of them when she was only seven, Arlie seems to have lived through it all.
There is tension woven throughout the book from Arlie’s relationship with her ex-stepfather who may or may not be stalking her. Lloyd was a suitably creepy villain and some parts were really spooky, although I’m not entirely convinced by his motives for contacting Arlie - I’m not sure how he thought a sixteen year old was going to drum up fifty grand. Perhaps long-term meth use rotted his brain?
I’d definitely recommend Burn Girl if you’re looking for a decent contemporary standalone this summer.
I received a copy of Burn Girl in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Netgalley and Albert Whitman.