Summary: Not All Heroes
Not All Heroes follows 11-year-old Zinnia Helinski whose family has recently moved to Maine after the death of her little brother, Wally, from brain cancer. Although, they seem to have moved for a fresh start, Zinnia’s parents aren’t doing much to create new experiences. They haven’t made new friends and they didn’t even say hi to their new neighbors.
At school, Zinnia is also being bullied by Trevor, a boy who keeps insisting she’s a bird, and “pulling” feathers out of her for laughs. Then her 19-year-old aunt, Willow, visits Zinnia’s family, saying that she’s dropping out of college, much to Zinnia’s mother’s dismay. There’s also tension between the two women because of the way Willow acted when Wally was sick. But Zinnia’s life is about to get interesting. One day, Zinnia sees the son of her new neighbors, Kris dressed in spandex and even a mask. She finds out that they call themselves Real Life Superheroes. She and Willow join the team.
This is a quirky, engaging book, perfect both for younger and older middle grade readers. Zinnia is fresh out of elementary school and new to middle school. She’s also dealing with a bully who may or may not be intentionally bullying her. Her little brother has recently died so there’s a bit of grief, although it does not weigh the story down at all. On top of that, there’s a measure of family drama with her parents coping by just getting through each day and her aunt showing up to shake things up.
I really liked Zinnia’s character and I loved Willow’s character arc and the fact that Zinnia has someone like her. I also enjoyed the way the author weaves past and present, showing us peeks into Zinnia and her brother’s relationship, as well as their bond with Willow. There’s plenty of time at school and Zinnia tries to make new friends.
The real fun, though, is the superhero element. Zinnia and Willow become part of a team of do-gooders who help out homeless people, neighborhood folks in danger, and generally anyone in need of assistance. They distribute blankets and bottles of water while dressed in superhero costumes. Eventually, Zinnia, as well as the team, will come to learn that it takes more than spandex to be a superhero.
Overall: Not All Heroes
Not All Heroes is a sweet, unique middle grade book about dealing with grief, helping out the community, and working through complex family issues. Featuring a young protagonist and serious issues balanced with a quirky, enjoyable plot, this book will appeal to older elementary-aged readers as well as younger middle grade readers. If you enjoy books about adventure, sibling relationships, books about community, and outside-the-box stories, this is one for you.
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I received an eARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Have you read this book or anyone by Josephine Cameron? This was my first book by her — that cover got me!