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Flash Burnout [Paperback]

L. K. Madigan
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Oct. 4 2010
Winner of the 2010 William C. Morris Award! Fifteen-year-old Blake has a girlfriend and a friend who’s a girl. One of them loves him; the other one needs him. When he snapped a picture of a street person for his photography homework, Blake never dreamed that the woman in the photo was his friend Marissa’s long-lost meth addicted mom. Blake’s participation in the ensuing drama opens up a world of trouble, both for him and for Marissa. He spends the next few months trying to reconcile the conflicting roles of Boyfriend and Friend. His experiences range from the comic (surviving his dad’s birth control talk) to the tragic (a harrowing after-hours visit to the morgue). In a tangle of life and death, love and loyalty, Blake will emerge with a more sharply defined snapshot of himself.

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Product Description


"With just enough humor to diffuse the tension and the art and science of photography as a backdrop, this rich romance explores the complexities of friendship and love, and the all-too-human limitations of both. It’s a sobering, compelling, and satisfying read for teens and a promising debut for a new young-adult author."--Booklist, starred review "An exceptional novel, Flash Burnout is thought-provoking on many levels."--School Library Journal, starred review  

About the Author

L. K. Madigan lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, son, two big black dogs, hundreds of books, and a couple of vintage cars.Visit her at her website: www.lkmadigan.com.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too July 5 2009
Blake is trying to understand relationships. He has a girlfriend and he is also the friend of a girl. Both relationships are important to him, but he realizes balancing them requires artful skill much like in his hobby of photography. There are rules to follow and one mistake can cause everything to go out of focus.

Blake is a cool character. He dreams of life as a stand-up comic and uses almost every opportunity to test out jokes and one-liners. He chalks up an invisible mark every time he gets a laugh. Many of those laughs come from Shannon. Blake can't believe how much fun she is, how beautiful she is, and how much he is really starting to love her.

Marissa is Blake's partner in photography class. As the two youngest in the class, they became partners by default, but it's a partnership that has worked well. Their friendship revolves strictly around photography until the day Blake accidentally takes a picture of Marissa's mother. He didn't realize they were mother and daughter when he stumbled across the homeless woman sleeping on the street. The photo begins a change in their friendship as Blake learns the truth about Marissa's mother.

What makes this story unique is the combination of an interesting cast of characters in a mix of serious situations and refreshing humor. My attention was immediately grabbed in the opening pages as Blake enters the kitchen for breakfast. He describes the snapshots of gunshot wounds fanned out across the kitchen table and the snoring of his father, the coroner, asleep on the nearby couch. Then there's the entrance of his mother, a hospital chaplain, dressed in only underwear and a blouse.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  37 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but has some distracting elements that take away from the story Sept. 13 2009
By Mint910 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
What made me decide to read Flash Burnout basically encompassed the photography aspect and the girlfriend + girl that is a friend. And thankfully those two aspects of the book were pretty satisfying, unfortunately they came with a few other things that were bothersome to me.

Let's start with the good, I loved how each chapter started with something related to photography, be it from a manual or Blake's homework and the way that photography was used to move the story forward. I would have loved to have seen Blake's and Marissa's photographs. They sound beautiful.

I also loved seeing Blake try and balance having a girlfriend he adored and that adores him (Shannon) and a girl that is a friend that really needs him (Marissa). The feeling of being torn and trying to do what's right for everyone is explored wonderfully in this book.

Another thing I really liked was Blake's family, his open-minded parents and his older brother, Garrett. I actually liked Garret at times better than Blake and his storyline about his friend with benefits Cappie. Would have loved to have seen that explored more.

While I liked all of that I did have some problems that distracted and took away from the good things in the book. Right off the bat I noticed Blake's slang and sort of annoying sense of humor, stuff like talking to Houston in his head all the time etc. I could have done without those types of things. And another thing that became rather bothersome for me was the way that Blake talked about his girlfriend Shannon and her body and touching her body. Yes, I know boys have hormones and they think about that stuff, but it was just too much for me and it made me sort of dislike Blake during those passages. Another thing I didn't find funny at all was that basically any time Blake mentioned Shannon's father he insulted him, I can understand insulting her mother but her father, he never did anything to deserve that!

Overall a nice coming of age story with some downsides that somewhat distracted from the story.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, fantastic, and true July 29 2009
By L. K. Messner - Published on Amazon.com
I was smitten with the main character's voice just a few pages into LK Madigan's FLASH BURNOUT. This YA novel is really, really funny at the same time it tackles some tough issues about family, teen romance, drug addiction, and friendship.

The novel begins with a photography assignment for fifteen-year-old Blake, just experiencing his first real romance. When Blake inadvertently snaps a picture of his friend Marissa's drug-addicted mother, he launches Marissa into a journey for which she desperately needs his support. That journey causes Blake to question what he thought he knew about love, sex, and friendship and takes readers on a wild ride of their own.

The voice in this book is really remarkable, and Madigan's rich characters with their hysterical dialogue reminded me of John Green at times. FLASH BURNOUT is a fantastic, fantastic debut!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars witty and funny main character Dec 17 2009
By Tabitha - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Blake is a typical teenage boy, filled with hormones and rampant thoughts about sex. He also aspires to be a stand up comic, and does his best to make everyone around him laugh. He makes for a funny, interesting character that many teenage boys will relate to.

There were a few times, however, that his voice sounded too teen-girl. Such as "Oh no she didn't!" That phrase is begging for a 'snap' at the end of it, and I don't know any teen boys who would do that. :) He also had a little too much insight at times (like, at the end with Marissa), which didn't fit his maturity level, character, or situation in life. Also, the end result of his photography felt like the story was being tied up with a bow.

So, for me (who isn't a teen anymore), those elements weakened the story. However, I can still see teens, both boys and girls, strongly relating to the characters and their situations. Especially since the writing is sharp, and the descriptions of the photographs are vivid and interesting.

This is definitely not for a younger audience, though. Sex is mentioned frequently, and there is an after-sex scene that might be too mature for kids younger than 13 or 14. The drug aspect of the story was done well, without graphic consequences, but it's also prevalent throughout the story.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read for teens and adults April 11 2010
By J. Prather - Published on Amazon.com
I loved this book. Flash Burnout introduces us to Blake; a soon to be 16 year old who has his first girlfriend and a friend who's a girl and is sometimes totally lost about what to do with either of them. Blake is a wonderful character and travels through this well paced story with humour, and lots of confusion. He's not perfect, but he tries so hard to be it's very endearing. He's just figuring things out in his relationships with Shannon and Marissa and finds himself in the middle of some things boys his age don't typically have to deal with. What I like so much about this character is that he steps outside his own self involvement and tries so hard to be a good friend and provide these two young women what he thinks they need from him. This results in alot of humour and eventual heartache. His mom is always telling him "actions have consequences" and that's one of the many lessons he learns here.

Speaking of the mom, hoorah! Finally here's a great literate teen novel that features parents who are present and involved in their kids lives (at least in Blake's case). That alone is a refreshing change. Blake has a great relationship with his parents and they allow him to solve his own problems while always being nearby for support. You just don't see that much in YA literature. I think that will make this book more relatable to a wider variety of kids. I like the growth Blake goes through in this book. It has the ring of truth to it.

This is a great read that will appeal to both boys and girls. Because of the sexual situations, (Blake thinks about sex alot) I would recommend for teens 15 and up. Blake's parents have raised him with a more cavalier attitude towards sex than some parents of young readers would be comfortable with. There's also some language, although not a gratuitous amount. All in all a great read - I look forward to giving it to my son in 4 years or so; I think he could probably learn some great things about loyalty and friendship from Blake. A good, well told story.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captures the essence of a teen Dec 11 2009
By Maggie Knapp - Published on Amazon.com
L.K.Madigan has captured the heart of certain teens, and rolled it back out in FLASH BURNOUT. Blake's humor is alternately cocky and self-deprecating, but it always rings true. His interior monologues (the very "Houston we have a problem" conversations that bugged another reviewer) were parts I really liked. I thought everyone had those "self-talks" when tensions got high. Shannon (the girlfriend) and Marissa (the girl-friend) are equally interesting personalities. I didn't mind that the "photo" aspect of the story takes a back seat to the "relationships" aspect of the story, which seemed achingly accurate for the issues teens face and the mistakes (?) teens make. If you liked NOT LIKE YOU, STORY OF A GIRL and/or SOMEDAY THIS PAIN WILL BE USEFUL TO YOU, you would probably like this book.
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