We Can Be Heroes

Kyrie McCauley. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-288505-0
In McCauley’s (If These Wings Could Fly) searing novel, queer artist Beck Jones and sensible EMT Vivian Hughes are still reeling five months after their mutual best friend Cassie Queen was shot and killed by her abusive ex-boyfriend Nico Bell, who then died by suicide. When Beck and Vivian accidentally reconnect, they’re joined by an unexpected guest: Cassie’s ghost. The three girls, cued as white, decide to exact vengeance on Nico’s father’s company, Bell Firearms, by painting Greek mythology–inspired murals in Cassie’s honor throughout their small town of Bell, “one of the most pro-gun places in the country.” But the more Beck and Vivian avoid confronting their grief, the more reckless they become. Told in a shifting third-person point of view between Beck and Vivian, with Cassie’s perspective conveyed in first-person verse, and supplemented by podcast transcripts that provide illuminating exposition on gendered gun violence, the narrative explores trauma, privilege, and the power of the characters’ righteous anger. Though it paradoxically positions Cassie’s tragedy as systemic and—especially regarding police response—exceptional, this layered story succeeds in being both a tear-jerking love letter to female friendship and an informative page-turner. Ages 13–up. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary & Media. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 08/23/2021
Release date: 09/07/2021
Genre: Children's
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-06-288507-4
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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