We Can Be Heroes

HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. Sept. 2021. 368p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062885050.
Gr 10 Up–Five months ago, Nico, the heir to Bell Firearms, took his father’s guns to school, killing his ex-girlfriend, Cassie Queen, and himself. Beck and Vivian always had trouble getting along and were only friends because of Cassie. One night, Vivian catches Beck painting a mural based on Greek mythology to bring awareness to Cassie’s murder and how it could have been prevented. Vivian decides to help Beck, and together they plan other murals, which causes a stir in town. The girls aren’t alone in the quest for vengeance. Cassie’s ghost is haunting Beck’s van and hoping for justice. A local podcast is also covering the murals and what happened to Cassie. McCauley’s latest novel is a well-written and enjoyable read on a controversial topic. Gun control is a significant aspect of this book, as is relationship abuse as readers learn Nico was violent towards Cassie. The book is divided into sections for each of the murals created. Within these, the story includes Beck and Vivian’s perspectives written in prose, Cassie’s written in verse, and transcripts of different episodes from the podcast. Beck and Vivian’s perspectives are distinct, and Cassie’s point of view adds an even more powerful layer. The characters’ races are never explicitly stated, but Beck is mentioned as having red hair, and Vivian is often referred to as having dark braids. Hair color is the only indicator for other characters as well.
VERDICT A worthy purchase for libraries.

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