Saturday, June 13, 2009

Heck Superhero

Martine Leavitt
Front Street, 2004

I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting Martine Leavitt last week. She seemed like the kind of person who would show up with a big smile and fresh baked cookies at your door if she knew you were feeling down, even if her editor were breathing down her neck to get those revisions done.

Heck, the thirteen-year-old hero of this story, has that same kind of heart. When Heck's mother calls him to tell him they've been evicted from their apartment, Heck is too worried about his mom to just stay at his friend's house until she comes for him. He has to go out looking for her, protect her, tell her everything will be okay. After all, he's her hero.

The city streets are a rough place for a thirteen-year-old. Battling constant toothache, encountering drug pushers and bully gangs, evading Social Services and the threat of being put in a "Frosty Home," Heck dreams of doing the one Good Deed that will put the universe to rights again and bring his mother back from the alternate dimension she's slipped into.

This book contains some drug use and a suicide, so I'm calling this a young adult novel, for ages fourteen and up. Martine Leavitt said that she felt she couldn't write honestly about homeless children without including those horrors. I think she did a fine job.

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