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Flash Burnout

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  2,852 ratings  ·  368 reviews
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 dram
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 19th 2009 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.74  · 
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 ·  2,852 ratings  ·  368 reviews

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Dec 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
She flips through the photos, her face impassive. “Too bad about the flash burnout on this one.”

I look over at the shot she’s indicating. “The what?”

“The flash burnout. You got too close to the subject. So the flash overexposed her. Well, me, I mean.”
Books like this remind me of why I love contemporary young adult fiction.

Flash Burnout is by no means a perfect book. Its frank approach to love, lust, death and drug abuse may not hold universal appeal with readers. But where these th
Apr 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Marco, from the Animorphs

It isn't everyday I read a book I really like. I was pretty ambivalent for the first fifty or so pages, but the premise (and the love triangle) intrigued me.

Alright, the love triangle more-so than the premise. I'll admit it -- I'm a sucker for well written love triangles, especially if one of the love interests is the best friend of the MC. I like best-friends-fall-in-love stories. Even more than that, I prefer books written from male POV. Yes, three admissions in one review. I feel like I'm in
Oct 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Once I started reading this book I had trouble putting it down, even though, on the surface, the plot doesn't sound like one I would find page turning.

What I loved about this book was the depth of characterization. I know Lisa, and sometimes that makes it very hard to get lost in a book. When you know the author, you see too much of them in the pages to forget that you're reading a story. But I did get lost in the characters. They were so complex. At first I thought Blake's older brother would j
Jun 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Three words; gritty, pretty & bizarre

There was just something so very unique about this story. I couldn't stop turning the pages, even though on the surface the plot isn't something I'd think of as a "page turner".

Madigan seamlessly blends humor with more serious matters. She's somehow realistically channeled the mind of a teenage boy (to me anyway) that most authors even the male ones, have a hard time doing. The characterization was fantastic. Even the most minor characters seemed to leap of t
Neil (or bleed)
I found an okay-copy of this book in Booksale for a cheap price. I'm hesitant to buy this but when I saw that Sara Zarr blurbed this one. No contest, I bought it. :D
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for

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 an
Jul 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
stayed up till past 1.30am to finish lk madigan's FLASH BURNOUT. brilliant. funny, touching, sad, and utterly real. i love blake. RECOMMEND!

madigan channeled a boy teen with a sense
of humor and heart--capable of mistakes like
all of us is nothing short of amazing.

a terrific read!
Jun 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
What kind of mom would I be if I gave my book baby less than 5 stars?

Novel Novice
Jan 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Flash Burnout is a rarity among YA novels for a number of reasons.

1. It’s edgy and realistic: No vamps, no zombies, nary a faery, but the subject matter does include a number of difficult subjects including drug addition, parental abandonment and sex (parents, don’t cover your eyes yet). I love vamps as much as the next reader, but it’s refreshing to visit real problems in the real world — there are no potions, runes or spells to undo the choices the characters make.

What’s more, the story doesn’
May 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
I don’t think I ever expected to pick up a book about a 15-year-old boy and call it one of the best books I’ve ever read. Yet here I am doing just that.

I found out about Flash Burnout at Wordstock last weekend. I heard the author speak about the book during a teen-book session (I had gone to see a different author). L.K. Madigan really didn’t impress me. She’s new to writing, she’s a 40-something soccer mom, and yeah. The one thing that really caught my attention about her book was that it won t
May 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 mother, he launches her into a journey for which she desperately needs some su
Sheela Chari
Jan 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What I learned from this book as a writer:

This book made me aware of voice - of how certain combination of words, the use of slang, even the placement of punctuation can all contribute to the unique sound of a narrator. The narrator's voice will stay with me for a long time -- not the voice of LK Madigan, who I soon forgot about, but Blake, whose whole personality formed with perfect pitch.

I'm learning more about YA, too, as I read, about how voice might be the single most important quality of a
Nov 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
See this is why I rarely read realistic books like this--they rarely end the way I NEED them to end, and I'm the kinda girl who needs my HEA delusions. I just finished this thing and now I feel wrecked. Just completely wrecked. But in, like, the best way.
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Photography is a hobby and a passion for many people. In Flash Burnout, by L.K. Madigan, Blake and Marissa are best friends who take a photography class together. A photo is worth a thousand words, and those words depend on angle, perspective, and focusing enough to prevent a flash burn out from happening.
The problems ahead that are waiting to happen. Blake, a sixteen year old confused sophomore, is dating Shannon, a over emotional soft and quiet fifteen year old sophomore girl. While Blake is
Breahna Rosenow
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan

Personal Response: I like this book because it made me feel like I was inside the book and the stuff that happened made me feel like I was apart of it. This book made me weirded/grossed out in some of the weirdest ways. I related to this book in a lot of different ways. The main characters are in high school and so am I. I did enjoy reading this book. It made me laugh, and some parts made me cry. Also, some parts made me confused and it made me cringe. But it was sti
Edraniel Tookes
Oct 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though this book the narrator is a teenage boy, Blake, I liked it more than I had expected. The book is about a fifteen year old boy who has a pretty normal life- first real girlfriend, class clown, and amaetur photographer. Then there has always been the girl in the background of his life, Marissa. Blake knows Marissa from photography class. When he find out that Marissa's mom is a meth addict, he wants to be there for her. He's left to choose from the girl that loves him, and the girl tha ...more
Sep 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Wendy F
Good reading this, though likely not the first time to have funny combined with the sad, not once does it cross the line into hokey and over the top. The way things wrap up, and there really is none… he screws up, but they all do (OK, him most of all) was fine… more than fine because he made me laugh, he made me cringe, and he made me furious, too. Except he screws up and he owns up to it.

A fifteen year old boy’s perspective, I kind of liked it even when I did want to give him a piece of my mind
Jody Sparks
Dec 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a perfect YA book. Well, the story is perfect. I'm not digging the cover so much, and the jacket copy was clever, but didn't give me an accurate sense of the story - the frame of the story, yes, but the heart of the story, no. I may not have read it if it hadn't won the Morris award.

This is definitely going into the "I Wish I Wrote This" category. The humor was so exactly my kind of humor, the struggle was so wonderfully relatable. I really hugged the book and talked to Blake, and laughe
Jan 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
This book crept up on me. The first quarter or so took a while to get through, and I wasn't sure if I was terribly interested in the story. But soon enough, I couldn't get Blake and Shannon and Marissa out of my head, and last night I put down the book at a tense moment and went to sleep wondering how everything would turn out for the three main characters. I liked how the ending left several points unresolved, but left Blake in a place where you could be sure he'd start working things out for h ...more
Krista Ashe
Feb 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-111-of-2011
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sydney Bartel
Mar 08, 2016 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tabitha Olson
May 09, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: recent-reviews
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 insi
K. Lincoln
Feb 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Dude. Very awesome, believable, real teenage guy here. He likes photography, he likes girls, he likes his family. However, he does the wrong things anyway.

I love how he can totally be clueless as to why his girlfriend is upset when he doesn't call her, and at the same time totally not understand about how his photograph of his best friend's drunk mother is traumatic, and at the same time yearn to do the right thing for both.

The guy in this book just wants to make people laugh and for everyone to
May 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all middle schoolers
4 1/2 stars. Near perfect, for what it is, which to me is a high school slice of life that's an excellent look ahead for middle schoolers. It has sex, drugs, language, and music, BUT they're all so tastefully done that I'd hope that any parent who tried to object would just look like a total doofus. Morris committee made an excellent call on this one. I personally liked Hold Still slightly better, but I can see why this would win over that. They have in common the photography as art and healing ...more
Oct 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: family, romance, male
I had fun with Blake's voice and humor, especially when it comes to girls. He's got a girlfriend, Shannon, and then a girl friend, Marissa, who's far more interesting, but has got a screwed up homelife. The circumstances of their friendship are odd enough (Blake photographs a tweaker on the street and Marissa recognizes that it's her mother) and so begins their journey.

In high school there's a fine balance between a lot of things and Blake crosses many of them, mostly realizing the humor as it
Ann Perrigo
Jan 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This Morris winner surprised me. As I was reading about Blake and his two girl friends (one he was "in love" with [or lusted after:]the other was his buddy) it seemed very predictable. Oh, yeah, I thought--and he's going to end up realizing that his "buddy" is the one he really loves. Then the author throws a curve ball at us. Extremely satisfying!

It's well written, and the adults were especially nicely drawn--a far cry from the shadow figures that parents often are in teen novels. They are rea
Mar 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, aaaaangst
I really, really liked this one. Not being a teenage boy, I can't speak to the authenticity of Blake's voice, but it felt realistic, fresh, and very consistent. Although the plot was compelling, I think the voices and the characters carried the novel. I loved that the angst was tempered by ambiguity and real dilemmas (omg hormones and decisions!) and a realistically imperfect main character. I didn't mind the subplots at all.

Also, hey, great parents! I love good parents in YA, and I totally thi
Blake's a decent guy, has a well-adjusted home life, and likes to make people laugh. His girlfriend Shannon loves him, his photography friend Marissa needs him. In photography class, he takes photos of 'gritty' subjects, and one day he brings in a photo of a drug addict passed out on the street. That drug addict is Marissa's mother.

Madigan's words are lovely, and the characters' dilemmas felt very real, even if it all (inevitably) comes crashing down. You see, this book is an excellent one abou
Dec 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who like a good, funny story
Can I say this book was AMAZING?
I can? HECK YEAH!!
When I started reading the first few pages, I was H-O-O-K-E-D.
Blake has a girlfriend who he really adores, Shannon. And a female best friend, Marissa. When Blake took a picture of a woman passed out on the street, he then discovers that the woman was Marissa's meth-addicted mom. Now Marissa is determined to find her. Meanwhile, Blake is conflicted with Shannon's jealousy and tries to figure out his feelings for her. And then . . . Blake and Maris
Kristin Lenz
Mar 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
A big thanks to my writer friend, Jody Sparks, for recommending this book. I loved this story. I'm a bit inconsistent with my star ratings. Generally, for a book to get five stars, I want a compelling story, genuine characters, great writing, AND some other creative/experimental twist or risk. This book is one of those exceptions, 5 stars, but nothing fancy about the writing or format - simply a genuine, honest, resonating story. The author created a world that rang so true to me, I didn't want ...more
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Lisa Wolfson (also known as L.K. Madigan) was born in Portland, Oregon, but when she was ten years old, her parents moved to Los Angeles. They were pretty insistent that she accompany them. She spent the rest of her formative years in L.A. (the Valley, to be exact … a region made famous in both song and film). When she was 28, she decided that she didn’t want to spend the rest of her life in L.A., ...more

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