cover image We Could Be Heroes

We Could Be Heroes

Margaret Finnegan. Atheneum, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-5344-4525-3

Autistic Hank Hudson lives in his own world; he’s happy to go unnoticed by the classmates he can’t keep straight and feels protected by a trio of rocks he chooses and carries each day. After a rare rebellious incident, Hank attracts the attention of classmate Maisie Huang, who invites him to see her geologist parents’ rock collection. The authoritative Maisie has an ulterior motive, however: guilting Hank into rescuing her elderly neighbor’s dog, Booler, a pit bull who experiences seizures. Booler lives outside, tied to a tree because of his condition, and due to Hank’s earlier audacity, Maisie believes that Hank has “the meatballs to save him.” Sensitive Hank, who is excited to have a friend but horrified by Maisie’s emotional manipulation, refuses and has a meltdown; author Finnegan uses an illustrative geological metaphor (a’a—a “lava flow where the lava moved and cooled at different rates”) for Hank’s meltdowns. Maisie is determined to “save” Booler and recruits Hank in other rescue schemes that both get him in trouble and offer him ample social experience (and provide comedic moments, as when the exceptionally honest Hank tries to lie). Debut author Finnegan, parent to a child with autism and epilepsy, deftly captures Hank’s difficulties in dealing with emotions—his own and others’—in this good-natured tale of two unlikely friends determined to save a life. Ages 8–12. [em](Feb.) [/em]