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Multicultural Literature
Real Heroes
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Yangsook Choi: Biography
Yangsook Choi: Bibliography
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The Thief Lord
This Same Sky
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
The Eleventh Hour: Curious Mystery
Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry
M.C. Higgins, the Great
Goin' Someplace Special
Locomotion
Too Many Tamales
Pablo Remembers
My Name is Maria Isabel
Pablo's Tree
The Great Ball Game
Buffalo Woman
Morning Girl
The Mud Pony: A Traditional Skidi Pawnee Tale
Jingle Dancer
The Name Jar
Tree of Cranes
Good Luck Gold: And Other Poems
The Magic Paintbrush
Habibi
Ella Enchanted
Silent Lotus
Real Heroes

Kaye, Marilyn.  1993.  Real heroes.  New York:  Harcourt Brace
     Jovanovich.  ISBN:  0152005633.

 

Kevin is a sixth grade student dealing with some tough issues.  His mother has recently packed up and moved with no apparent explanation.  His dad, a respected police officer, is angry and distant.  He is feeling alienated from his friends, Andy (whose older brother has come out about his sexual orientation), and Eric who seems insensitive and at times cruel in his observations and comments.  To top it off, he and his friends blunder into some documentation that lists his favorite teacher, Jeffrey Logan, as HIV positive.

It is difficult for Kevin to speak about or forgive his mother and Mr. Logan becomes the one adult that Kevin feels comfortable talking to.  Mr. Logan is a compassionate listener and withholds judgement.  When news of Mr. Logan’s HIV status leaks out, parents organize and Kevin’s father, Charley Delaney, decides to spearhead the dismissal of Mr. Logan. Kevin feels divided loyalty for his father and Mr. Logan.   Attempting to show his father some literature about HIV and transmission of the disease, Kevin witnesses something in his father’s eyes he has never seen before, fear! 

As the story progresses, the parent group becomes more vocal, and finally Mr. Logan succumbs to the pressure and submits his resignation.  This letdown is more than Kevin can handle so he leaves school and goes to confront his teacher.  Mr. Logan patiently explains that although a difficult decision, he felt it best in the interest of his students to leave and stop the disruption of the school atmosphere.  In his perceptive manner, he continues to explain to Kevin that people aren’t perfect and that Kevin is not to take on the responsibility for the actions of his father and prompts him to be responsible for his own actions. 

As Kevin ponders all that has happened, he decides to reconnect with his mother and begins a letter to her. Many themes crisscross including HIV awareness, homosexuality, peer pressure, divorce, parent/child relationships, growing up, disillusionment with heroes, and courage to take a stand. 

Some of the plot elements and characterizations are heavy handed.  The bullies seem too stereotypical, always choosing meanness of spirit.  Mr. Logan, the HIV positive teacher, is so understanding and such an excellent teacher and person, that he seems rather two dimensional.  We don’t really get to know his story and perhaps that is purposeful on the author’s part because the story is really about Kevin and how he deals with life’s issues.  

The part of the story covering sex education and information about AIDS, reads like a textbook script.  The author inserts a reading list and hotline information at the end of the novel.

Yet, Kevin and his plight are believable.  His desperate feelings of loneliness and his inability to confide in an adult, are very much part of the teenage perspective.  His longing to please a father that he so admires is believable. His anger with his mother is understandable.  His disillusionment with friends and the adults around him seem very honest.  Ultimately, Kevin rejects the injustices dealt Mr. Logan.  “Kevin’s unwillingness to accept stereotype holds the story together, it should help give readers like him-quiet but steady sorts-the courage to take similar stands” (Kirkus Reviews).

Kirkus Reviews.  1993.  Real heroes.  Available from http://www.amazon.com.  Accessed 25
     July 04.