The charming and handsome Angus Killick mailed me a manuscript for a fall 2007 book by newcomer Perry Moore entitled HERO. It took me forever (sorry, Angus) to steel myself to pick it up (almost 400 pages) and start reading. Of course, once I read the first page, I was hooked, mesmerized, and determined to complete the reading. That was yesterday. It was a lovely Saturday with nothing to do except fix a couple of meals and remind the kids when to switch out their laundry loads (long story, but they prefer to do their own now with all their special handling clothes but they tend to forget they have 7 loads to do; how can two tiny teens wear so many clothes?). And so I began reading the story of a young man in the middle of a basketball game. It is obvious he has great talent. It is also immediately obvious that, though his father is in the stands cheering him on, Thom worries that the new parents sitting next to his father will recognize him before the game is over. There is the matter of his burned stump of a hand and a lot of bad publicity many years ago.
Thus begins the saga of Thom, a young man who father is a disgraced former super-hero. Thom seems to have inherited some of the genes from his super parent; his is the ability to heal. However, he will need more than super powers to untangle the mess that is his life right now. His mother has disappeared; he cannot seem to perform up to snuff in his probationary period with the super heroes; and then there is the fact that Thom is gay.
Part action-adventure, part coming-of-age, part cultural commentary. All parts of HERO are wonderfully absorbing. What I particularly love in the opening couple of chapters is this total feeling of confusion and wondering as a reader. What is wrong with Thom's father? With Thom? Who or what is the menacing presence that seems to surround Thom wherever he goes? So many questions that take their sweet painstaking time to be answered.
Thanks, Angus. Thanks, Perry for offering readers a new take on an old formula.