#931 – Everyday Hero by Kathleen Cherry — Debut MG

Yesterday was “Book Lovers Day” and I missed it. I feel horrible. Today is “Lazy Day.” Seems I got the two days mixed-up. Maybe there’s a story in this. Today should be “Book Lovers Day,” because I love this book. I hope you do too.

everyday hero Everyday Hero
Written by Kathleen Cherry
Orca Book Publishers   3/15/2016
978-1-4598-0982-6
168 pages   Ages 8—12

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“What’s normal,
anyway?

“Alice isn’t doing so well at her new school. Her behavior has landed her in detention where she makes an unlikely friend. Megan seems fearless to Alice—but also angry or maybe sad. Alice isn’t sure which. All she knows is that she may be the only person who can keep Megan safe, but she just has to figure out how.” [back cover]

The Story
Mom has always taken care of Alice, but now she is a “sandwich” so dad has taken over those duties. When Alice’s records from her old school get lost, dad uses the opportunity to give Alice the chance to be a normal kid for a change.

“normal—the average in type, appearance, achievement, function, and development.”

Alice’s classmates think she is weird and maybe mental, all because she counts . . . out loud; or she stops moving, moving, for apparently no particular reason.

But, if “normal” includes getting a detention, Alice is normal. Alice has earned nine detentions in January alone. In detention, Alice meets Megan, a tough girl who dresses in black. The two become unlikely friends. Megan also becomes Alice’s defender against people who treat her poorly.

Alice has Asperger Syndrome. Megan has “hand-eye coordination problems” and bruises because of it—or so Alice thinks.

Megan does not talk much about her home life and that is fine with Alice—she doesn’t like chit chat or questions. But when something happens and Megan asks Alice for a favor, though “friends help friends,” Alice cannot help. She cannot lie and it would require lying to Megan’s stepfather. Megan’s decision—her reason for needing a favor—is also against the rules.

Rule: “Never agree to meet someone that you’ve only met online.”

Megan is going to Vancouver to meet a guy she met online. Before she leaves, Megan tells Alice all adults lie and one of those lies is about her mom returning to her dad. Alice has always thought her dad never lied, but she realizes he did lie. She caught him in a lie. All this new information bangs around in Alice’s head, becoming too much and causing her a fretful night. But by morning, Alice knew what she needed to do: “Friends help friends.”

With $200 from her piggy bank, Alice heads out for the bus station—and Vancouver—to help Megan.

Review
I really enjoyed Everyday Hero. Told from Alice’s point-of-view, the reader is in the catbird seat, privy to Alice’s thoughts. Asperger Syndrome is on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum, meaning social interactions are difficult for Alice. She understands many things other kids take for granted and has much trouble making friends. Alice also repetitively does things to relieve stress or when upset. She counts, and counts. Alice also rocks on her heels, sits in a corner with her back against both walls, freezes and becomes unable to move, and bangs her head. She hates smells, being touched, and answering questions.

Alice likes Megan because she does not smell and she does not do things for gold stars. Megan understands Alice, and Alice’s needs, thanks to a mother who does many of the same things. Megan is also intuitive and observant. Megan gets Alice to try things she has never allowed herself to consider. Often these are good things, but end badly. Megan does not try to harm Alice in any way. Though a “normal kid” (“normal—the average in type, appearance, achievement, function, and development”), Megan is equally misunderstood. She needs Alice as much as Alice needs her.

Alice’s dad is thrilled she made a friend, feeling this validates his refusal to inform Alice’s school about her Asperger’s, something mom always did. He is wrong.

The writing is very good, but at first, it was annoying. It seemed childlike and repetitive. Remembering Alice is the narrator helps. She writes as she would speak, if she could get the words out of her head and into her mouth. We get to understand Alice’s world, and her perception of it, because she narrates. This is wonderful for kids—and adults—to see and understand. Alice is smart, but also trapped in ways most of us could never fathom. As Alice grows, so does her writing.

The author, writing as Alice, is amazing. Cherry’s background helps (a school counselor) but education and occupation can only get you so far. Cherry has that something which helps her really understand others, in this case, Alice and Asperger’s Syndrome. Everyday Hero is humorous at times, heartbreaking at others, and all of it works together to bring readers an excellent adventure.

Through Everyday Hero readers look at life through the eyes of Asperger’s. The author understands Alice and does an astounding job bringing her to life. Kids will understand and empathize with Alice by book’s end. They will also understand a little more about kids like Megan. Understanding can go a long way toward kindness and acceptance, making Everyday Hero a brilliant debut.

EVERYDAY HERO. Text copyright © 2016 by AUTHOR. Illustrations copyright © 2016 by ILLUSTRATOR. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Orca Book Publishers, Victoria, British Columbia.

AmazonIndie BooksApple BooksBook DepositoryOrca Book Publishers

Find Everyday Hero on Goodreads HERE.

Kathleen Cherry:  http://kathleencherry.ca/
Follow on Twitter          @KathleenCherry_

Orca Book Publishers:  http://www.orcabook.com/
Follow on Twitter          @orcabook

onlinelogomaker-030416-1355

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Copyright © 2016 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

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Everyday Hero
Written by Kathleen Cherry
Orca Book Publishers 3/15/2016
9781459809826

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