Burn Girl

Burn Girl

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Albert Whitman and Company


A meth lab explosion leaves Arlie permanently scarred — both physically and emotionally. Yet, she develops the street smarts and survival skills to keep her addict mother out of the reach of the law and hidden from her stepfather, Lloyd, the man responsible for the explosion that killed three people.

Shortly after Arlie’s 16th birthday, her mother overdoses, forcing an end to their nomadic lives. Social services steps in and rules suddenly exist where none had before. Soon, she’s living in a 31-foot Airstream trailer with an eccentric uncle and attending high school for the first time.

While her facial scar makes it hard to fit in, Arlie begins to think a normal life might be possible – that is, until her stepfather tracks her down and insists she return drug money her mother had stolen. A final confrontation tests Arlie’s idea of right and wrong, and how far she’s willing to go to protect her new life.


I was immediately intrigued by the synopsis of this book, so I had to read it! I thought Burn Girl was a good YA contemporary read. It’s not one that particularly stands out in the genre, but it was an engaging read that captured my attention throughout.

Burn Girl tells the story of Arlie, who is a sixteen year old living with her mum who is addicted to meth. The story opens with Arlie’s mum dying of a drug overdoes. Arlie finds her mum and has to phone for help, knowing that it will change her life forever. Arlie is first sent to live with a foster family, until her Uncle (who she had never met) is ready to take her on. Arlie begins to build a relationship with her Uncle. She attends school for the first time and meets a boy. Arlie’s life is looking up until she finds her past beginning to haunt her.

I think Arlie was a really strong main character. She was definitely the strongest element to this story. Arlie is strong, but has been damaged by an awful upbringing. She is struggling to cope with her emotions. She’s one of those characters that you just want to reach into a book and save. I did love how she had a best friend who was incredibly supportive through everything. I also loved how much support and love she got from her Uncle, despite them not knowing each other well. It was beautiful to see how Arlie could begin to heal with the support of those around her.

I really appreciated how the author didn’t shy away from telling the story of Arlie’s life. There were some very dark descriptions of what it was like for Arlie to live with an addict. It would have been easy to gloss over this, but the author handled it well and from what I can imagine, incredibly realistically.

There is romance in this book, but I have to admit I didn’t really connect with the relationship between Arlie and Cody. It came across as too insta love for my liking. It’s the only reason why I didn’t rate this book any higher.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars


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