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DON'T CALL ME HERO by Ray Villareal


by Ray Villareal

Age Range: 12 - 15

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-55885-711-7
Publisher: Arte Público

After saving the life of a famous model, a 14-year-old Mexican-American boy learns the pressures of popularity and the definition of true heroism.

Dallas freshman Rawly Sánchez knows that life is not perfect. His older brother Jaime is in prison, while his mother’s Mexican restaurant is barely staying afloat. Now, he can’t even visit his brother on Saturdays anymore, or he will miss the required tutoring for the algebra class he is failing. Small bursts of happiness come in the comic books he loves and in hanging out with his nerdy, often-annoying, wisecracking Jewish best friend Nevin Steinberg. Things take a turn for the worse when someone accidentally sets a pig loose in his mom’s restaurant, and the incident makes the local news. Then, Nevin talks Rawly into performing as a duo at the school talent show, where he makes a fool of himself in front of his crush, Miyoko. Everything changes when Rawly misses his bus stop and ends up rescuing 22-year-old model Nikki Demetrius when her car plunges into a river. Instantly, Rawly is on the local and national news, hailed as a hero for saving Nikki’s life. The third-person narration follows Rawley’s journey as he learns who his real friends are and the difference between comic-book and real-world heroes.

A good story with some unexpected twists. (Fiction. 12-15)