The heroic act and its aftereffects--admiration, exploitation marks the boundaries of this first novel in which Mr. Bristow displays a skill at handling current emotional issues. Sammy Apodaca, a young, carefree, happily irresponsible Southern Negro used to ""getting by."" finds himself at the scene of an accident in which twenty-two white children are trapped in a burning schoolbus. Sammy plunges in, rescuing seventeen of them before the thing goes up almost taking Sammy with it. A photographer is on hand to record the moment and according to the local editor. ""They had one. A genuine, bona fide, one-hundred carat, diamond-studded sweetheart of a hero in Sammy Apodaca."" The white community is desperate to show its gratitude; the black community, headed by one Rev. Lazarus Giles, prepares to make Sammy a major issue in the upcoming C.O.R.E. confrontations. Meanwhile, everyone hopes that Sammy will be a good martyr and die but Sammy, unfortunately, recovers. And finds himself the focal point of racial tension. Sammy is wise enough to know what's happening and just wants to move on but he finds that medals and their worshippers are difficult to abandon. There are some excellent scenes the catastrophe, the church meeting where the rabble-rousing Reverend gets his comeuppance. Subsidiary characters like a red-necked K.K.K., a pistol-whipping sheriff and even the righteous Reverend are arguable. But the story in toto could pass a screen test.