book thoughts: Hero Type by Barry Lyga


Barry Lyga

In ‘Hero Type’ by Barry Lyga, Kevin goes from total loser to favorite son overnight when he stops the attack on the town sweetheartLeah. Everyone in Brookdale loves him and the mayor of the townpractically gives him a car.  The car is fine, but the mayor slaps ontwo “Support Our Troops” ribbons to the back of the trunk.  WhenKevin arrives at home, his father orders him to remove the ribbons fromthe vehicle.  Kevin obeys without question and is caught be reportersas he tosses the magnets into the garbage.  When asked why he did it,Kevin decides not to blame his father, but to take a stand, going from favorite son to outcast.  The simpleact of throwing away the magnets turns into an experiment in free speech.

‘Hero Type’ is a conundrum of a story, teetering on the edgebetween poingant and annoying.  I feel that it will be more readable aswe move away from the era of ribbon magnets and flag pins…wheneverthat might be.  This book would be great for a teen discussion group,but I think it would take a teacher with a lot of experience and gutsto use this book.  Not because there is anything racy, but because itis an argument that is being debated by adults as well as teens.  Thefree speech debate is never easy but this book would be a great toolfor someone teaching about the first amendment and why the debatecontinues today.  It is obvious which side Lyga comes down on, andsince I agreed with his attitude, I found the book enjoyable.  Butsomeone that does not agree with him might find this story unreadable. 

But really, the story of the free speech debate is only a subplotto the story of Kevin and his run in with Leah in the alley, along withhis strained relationship between his estranged family members.  Kevinstruggles with the idea that he would ever be considered a “hero” dueto personal issues he has dealt with over the past year. 

‘Hero Type’ was a very intriguing read, the kind of book you wantto read with a friend so you can discuss it right away.  You might notagree with everything Kevin says or does, but he makes some very goodpoints about free speech, America, and how we treat our heroes.

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