cover image Flash Burnout

Flash Burnout

L.K. Madigan. Houghton Mifflin, $16 (336p) ISBN 978-0-547-19489-9

Blake's life is riddled with the small dramas that accompany a high school sophomore's existence, but he has a sense of humor and feels lucky to be in love with his girlfriend, Shannon. But that relationship, and his generally normal life, are upended after he takes a photo of a meth addict on the street and discovers that she's the mother of Marissa, one of his classmates. With her father in jail, Marissa has nowhere to turn when her mother disappears, and before he knows it, Blake becomes emotionally entrenched in her family troubles. As his relationship with Marissa intensifies, Blake struggles to manage Shannon's jealousy ("even thought I may not work at the Genius Bar, I can tell she is mad") and figure out what he really wants (he eventually does cheat on Shannon). Madigan's debut skillfully employs the metaphor of photography to illuminate Blake's subtle discoveries about human nature and himself. But it's the teenager's authentic, often humorous, narration and personality that carry the story and act as a counterpoint to the tough issues Madigan addresses. Ages 14%E2%80%94up. (Oct.)