Friday, November 7, 2008

Heck Superhero

Another review!! Oh, darn it, I need a picture. Why do I keep forgetting that? Okay, people, be right back.

Heck Superhero by Martine Leavitt

This one actually is young adult. It's rated ages 12 and up on Red Deer Press' website, which is, of course, the company that published it. It's 144 pages long and... my copy was hardcover... and... dudes and dudettes, it's a book. You all know what they look like.

Summary (reddeerpress.com because the summary on the inside flap of the dust jacket is really long and I don't want to type all that): Thirteen–year–old Heck is a pretty normal kid with some artistic talent and a hyperactive imagination. Life with his mother has been hand-to-mouth but not catastrophic. He has a modest, passive support system: his best friend and some kindly acquaintances.

When he and his mother are evicted, she assumes he's staying with his friend. Heck, confident of his own ability to get by and wanting to protect his mother from criticism, decides not to ask for help. For the next few days he brushes up against a harsher reality than he anticipated. He's hungry, broke, homeless and plagued by a toothache.

Heck has a series of encounters involving varying degrees of callousness, harshness, and risk. He sustains himself (and the reader) with his wit, imagination and optimism. As Heck faces the challenges of growing up on the streets—including drugs, pain, hunger, theft and homelessness—he must come to terms with his choices, his perceptions of himself, and his perceptions of others.

Heck Superhero is award–winning author Martine Leavitt's most recent foray into the world of today's urban teenager. Heck is as real as Martine's other troubled teenager, Tom Finder. And, like Tom Finder, Heck must find the inner strength to face the truth.

My review: Heck was not an easy character for me to like. He was gullible. He was in total denial. When things got bad, he refused to deal with the real world, choosing instead to hide in his superhero fantasies. At times he was just plain stupid.

But he was also so darn sweet I just couldn't stop reading. He loved his mom so much that he refused to tell anyone that she'd gone missing. He believed that by doing good things, Good Deeds, he called them, things would go right for him. Believed that he alone good find his mom when she disappeared and that would fix everything. It really did amaze me how innocent he was.

One thing that cracked me up was his best friend Spence, who is the total opposite of Heck. At one point, Heck calls Spence from a mall pay phone and during their conversation, Heck admits that he tried a drug called Velocity Nine because his teeth hurt so badly, and Spence yells, "What did you say?"

Heck said, "I'll never do it again."

After another silence, Spence said very calmly, "So you did the stupid thing, huh? You did Velocity Nine?"

Heck didn't answer.

"You've joined the stupid crowd, become one of the stupid."

"I know," Heck said. "I won't-"

"Didn't we talk about the Hi-Ho stupidity of that?"

Spence has some great lines like that, and I actually wish he'd been a more prominent character. And unlike some other books that I've read lately, Levitt doesn't make out teenagers doing drugs to be an everyday thing, no big deal, just all fun and games. She is clear that there are serious consequences and dangers, and I very much liked that.

Summary: While this book is somewhat similiar to others using this format, mainly Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt, it's very good, definitely worth reading, and it's going on my recommend list. It even made me cry at the end, but I'm not going to tell you why. Happy reading, people!

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