This is a book I probably would have never heard of except that it caused outrage in a class I eventually took myself in college.
Hero* by Perry Moore is another book in the YA genre. Hero centers around the story of a young man, Thom, who realizes he has superpowers. Thom’s superpowers ought to be a source of fun, but the protagonist has to keep it secret from his dad that The League has recruited him to join. The League is the same group which rejected Thom’s father in the past.
So Thom is going through something big and wishes to be able to talk to his father about it but can’t. Sound familiar as a theme in life? Moore juxtaposes that theme with the more real life version of an adolescent growing up gay. Thom is not only dealing with discovering his superhero powers but also dealing with his sexuality being yet another thing he must hide from the person he loves.
Back to the beginning of this post where I said I wouldn’t have heard about this book if not for the outrage. Yes some of that outrage was about having to read a gay superhero book. The rest though, was that in this class about books for adolescents the professor recommended Moore’s book, which explicitly describes Thom masturbating to internet porn and later giving a blow job to someone in a parking lot. “OMG a teacher just recommended we let students read about homosexual sex.”
I read the book and while it is explicit it is not pornography and done in real life believable way. While I wouldn’t recommend the book for six graders I see no problem with recommending it to eighth grade and beyond. The story is ridiculously campy at times but it deals with a very realistic view of struggles that gay teens face in a wonderful way.
I completely recommend Hero for a funny, adventurous read. It may be too campy for some people but I had a lot of fun with Moore’s literary allusions to other heroes and pitfalls in adolescence. I found the style nostalgic and amusing.
*This book is no longer in print but Amazon has lots of used copies. I doubt my readership will create shortage on being able to find the book.