Heroes: A Novel by Robert Cormier
Reading level: Young Adult
Eighteen-year-old Francis Cassavant has returned from World War II an unwilling hero. Although he can still see and hear, a grenade has blown away his nose, his ears, his teeth, and his cheeks, leaving him faceless. Hiding his ghastly wounds with bandages and a white silk scarf, Francis welcomes the anonymity his mutilation brings him, for he has returned to his hometown with a secret mission--a plot for revenge (against his enemy Larry LaSalle) that he values more than his own life. Francis's eerily matter-of-fact acceptance of his hideous mien, along with his sweetness and selflessness, contrast sharply with his obsessive need for vengeance.
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No one recognizes him as the quiet kid who once loved Nicole Renard and hung out with fellow teens at the Wreck Center. LaSalle, formerly a charismatic youth leader, has also come back from the war a hero, and only Francis knows the dark side of this older man's concern for young people. But does LaSalle's one evil act wipe out all the good he has done? And is Francis just as guilty because he could have prevented it and didn't?
Robert Cormier--winner of the Margaret A. Edwards Award and many other honors--has once again crafted a riveting yarn of psychological suspense. Francis's story is revealed only gradually in hints that keep the reader guessing. Young teens will find it a quick and absorbing read, and older adolescents (and full-fledged adults, too) will relish pondering the many-sided ethical questions Cormier raises about heroism, guilt, and forgiveness. (Ages 13 to 16)
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