REVIEW: White Lines by Jennifer Banash

whitelinesWhite Lines by Jennifer Banash
Putnam Juvenile, 2013
[Goodreads] [Amazon]

A gritty, atmospheric coming of age tale set in 1980s New York City.

Seventeen-year-old Cat is living every teenager’s dream: she has her own apartment on the Lower East Side and at night she’s club kid royalty, guarding the velvet rope at some of the hottest clubs in the city. The night with its crazy, frenetic, high-inducing energy—the pulsing beat of the music, the radiant, joyful people and those seductive white lines that can ease all pain—is when Cat truly lives. But her daytime, when real life occurs, is more nightmare than dream. Having spent years suffering her mother’s emotional and physical abuse, and abandoned by her father, Cat is terrified and alone—unable to connect to anyone or anything. But when someone comes along who makes her want to truly live, she’ll need to summon the courage to confront her demons and take control of a life already spinning dangerously out of control.

Both poignant and raw, White Lines is a gripping tale and the reader won’t want to look away.


Drug addiction is a subject I haven’t personally read a whole lot of, but the two books I have read that dealt with the topic – Crank by Ellen Hopkins and The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx – were quite eye-opening and compulsively readable. As such, I was extremely intrigued with the summary for White Lines, particularly since it seemed like there was going to be a lot more going on in this book than just the drugs. What I found in its pages was a very damaged main character who, despite her issues and flawed way of thinking, was someone I was completely rooting for and hoping she’d figure things out before it was too late.

This book is quite dark, and not just because of the drug use. Cat is emotionally wrecked, doesn’t trust easily, and is well aware that her choices aren’t the best. The book is scattered throughout with flashbacks to her childhood, when her mother would abuse her or her father would ignore her, and that added a very tangible sense of sadness to the story, even if she herself wasn’t necessarily drowning in sorrow the time. Cat was a very conflicted narrator, equal parts sad and angry, mostly going through the motions. Only when she was at the club or doing drugs was she “alive” if you will (which of course was the main draw for her to the drugs in the first place), and I have to give major kudos for the way those scenes were written, in such a psychedelic fashion. The clothing, atmosphere, music and excess were nearly dripping off the page, keeping time with the chaotic and drug-infused thoughts careening through Cat’s head. All of this was just utterly atmospheric and kept me thoroughly engaged the entire time.

My one complaint about this book is that the ending is rather nice and tidy, if you will. One of the things I liked most about The Heroin Diaries was when Nikki recounted just how difficult it was to get himself together and leave the drugs behind. I couldn’t help but notice that, aside from a paragraph or two, that is decidedly missing from White Lines, and somehow keeps the story from being as completely fleshed out as it could have been. In my opinion, a book dealing with a subject as all-encompassing as drug abuse and addiction is shouldn’t be tied up in a nice, neat bow, and I couldn’t help but feel that that was precisely what happened here.

Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a realistic, gritty and dark YA read that deals with a number of tough topics, do pick up White Lines. The book does a very good job of transporting you to the 1980s, complete with John Hughes movie and New Age music references that made me smile. There are no minced words when it comes to the drug use and club scenes, but all of it comes together to form a really well done book that’s extremely readable and really pulls you in. I’d definitely recommend it!



An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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4 Responses to REVIEW: White Lines by Jennifer Banash

  1. I’m with you. I think the only book relating to drug use I’ve read is Cranked. But, after reading your interview I’m thinking I might have to try this one. Great review :)

  2. Pingback: Stacking the Shelves #46 –

  3. Thank you for the lovely review! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book.

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