In Barry Lyga’s Hero-Type, Kevin Ross (Kross to his friends) is an unlikely hero.  He’s skinny, unpopular, fairly unattractive, and generally goes unnoticed.  That is until he saves Leah Muldoon’s life.  Then he is lauded by the school, the town, and the media as a hero.  He’s even given a great deal on a new car by the mayor.  Unfortunately, that’s where the hero part of the story starts to unravel for Kevin.

The mayor slapped two “Support the Troops” magnets on Kevin’s new car, and Kevin’s dad, an Army Veteran, makes him remove the magnets and throw them away.  All of this is caught on tape, and Kevin becomes a pariah.  At first, he doesn’t see what the big deal is, but as he talks to his dad and does some research, Kevin becomes something more than an unlikely hero.  He becomes an unlikely advocate for free speech.

Is Kevin liked for his views?  Not so much.  In fact, he gets beat up regularly.  Kevin’s life basically stinks because of what he’s been doing.  So why is he doing it?  Does he really believe in all the stuff he’s spouting?  I’ll leave that for you to figure out, dear readers…

Although I really enjoyed Hero-Type and I thought the author presented issues of free speech in a clear and easy to understand manner, I didn’t think that Kevin, the protagonist, was a particularly sympathetic character.  At some points in the story, I didn’t really like him all that much.  At other points, however, I really identified with him.  I don’t have “Support the Troops” magnets or any other support magnets on my car.  I don’t want them there either.  Like Kevin, I believe that these symbols mean nothing to many people, and there are other ways that we can really support the causes we believe in.  Do these views make me popular in my ultra-conservative hometown?  No.  Do I really care?  No again.

One of the primary messages in Hero-Type that I think comes across well is that we should all be thinking for ourselves instead of doing things based on the way they’ve always been done or what others tell us we should be doing.  As an educator, I don’t believe it’s my responsibility to tell students what to think…it’s to teach them how to think for themselves.

Now I’ll step off my soapbox and go about the rest of my day.

Read Hero-Type by Barry Lyga.

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