We Can Be Heroes- Catherine Bruton

Synopsis from Amazon
My dad was killed in the 9/11 attacks in New York. But the stuff in this book isn’t about that. It’s about the summer my mum went away. The summer that me and Jed and Priti tried to catch a suicide bomber and prevent an honour killing. There’s stuff about how we built a tree house and joined the bomb squad; how I found my dad and Jed lost his; and how we both lost our mums then found them again. So it’s not really about 9/11 but, then again, none of those things would have happened if it hadn’t been for that day. So I guess it’s all back to front, sort of…

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
In your FACE. But yay Granny.

High Points.
Ben… aww. Cutie. Priti. Imagination. Childhood innocence. Tree houses. Binoculars. Cartoons (sorry.. Manga. I’m not even going to pretend to know about Manga, the only experience I have in things like that is when the TV got stuck on a Pokemon marathon.) Doodling. Wheelie shoes. Girls in bunches. Cornershop sweets. Lists. Memory boxes. Biscuits. Grannies. Street parties. Curries. Honour killing by Jane Austen. Racially sensitive topics. Pointing out the absurdity of political correctness out of control … No one cares that Baa Baa was a black sheep. He could be grey or he could be white or he could be fuscia (amazing)… he’s a nursery rhyme character and he just wants to give bags of wool to the master and the dame and the little boy who lives down the lane. Stop fuelling the hatred and driving wedges between people! This book isn’t difficult to follow and I loved how Ms Bruton never tried to keep the reader in the dark over anything. It was fun to read a book where I knew what was going on when the characters didn’t (Well… at least intentionally). A lot of the laughs from this book stemmed from Ben, Priti and Jed letting their imaginations run completely wild (maybe a little bit too wild at some points) in the boredom of Summer.

Low Points.
Uncle Ian. NEVER HAVE I WANTED TO THROTTLE A FICTIONAL CHARACTER MORE THAN THIS JOKE. Seriously… he really reminded me of the twonk I saw on the news recently who was being interviewed about the riots in Manchester. He stated that his twelve year old child was ‘within his rights’ to smash up businesses and steal things because of ‘all the Polish people’.
Oh yeah, you’re totally right! That makes complete sense.
Bruton did an all too great job at creating a character that was so frustrating (especially in the way he spoke to Ben and Jed) and, unfortunately, extremely realistic. Every time he was on the page I was left with a really bad taste in my mouth.
I wanted more pictures! I think this book would have been great with the addition of more of Ben’s drawings (Like A Part-Time Indian). Just the descriptions alone were gorgeous and vivid and I would have loved to see more of them.
A lot happened in the last few pages of the book and I couldn’t help but think that this book would have been better if the action had been spread out a bit.

Oh my gosh, Ben. I just wanted to cuddle him and tell him that everything will be OK and then drink fizzy pop with him and read Manga comics with him and pretend I have an idea of what is going on in them. It broke my heart how Ben was almost afraid to grieve for both of his parents and ask questions (he creates lists of questions he wants to ask but doesn’t show them anyone) because he feels that his feelings don’t matter or that he wasn’t supposed to ask them because everyone will think he’s being dramatic. I have to admit there were many a-time where I got a bit misty eyed in this book. Ben was just a little sweetheart.
And he’s also a brilliant doodler… so yeah.
And Priti. Oh I loved this girl. She was so over the top and mouthy and exactly like most 11 year olds you see scooting around on those blimmin’ annoying wheelie shoes.
And her outfits sounded exactly like something I would wear now when I was 11. *shifty look*
Which brings me to Jed, Ben’s cousin. You see, I really wanted to like Jed and he did make me laugh on numerous occasions. But Jed, mate, the reasons why I didn’t like you as much as the others weren’t because of you. I promise. It’s just your Dad did a real number on you, didn’t he?
It angered me so much because his father’s prejudice ways (his father is Uncle Ian, by the way) had seeped into him and how you see it all the time. There is this hatred and ignorance passed on from generation to generation and it makes me so frustrated.
But… I like to think that Jed will break this chain. And he will if this next lady has anything to do with it…

Best. Granny. EVER. She really reminded me of my grandma (The giddiest 88 year old dodgem car extraordinaire who still makes A MILLION puddings because ‘She doesn’t know what we all like’. Hmm. It’s been 22 years, Grandma. I swear she has an agenda because she is of firm belief that girls should be ‘pleasingly plump’…. ) and I just loved her.
I would love to spend the summer with her looking at old pictures with her and playing chess (or… um, learning how to play chess) and munching on Garibaldi biscuits.

Theme Tune.

I want to be a kid again. Well… actually, I just want to wear my hair in bunches again.

Angst Level.
9/10. It’s funny that I read this book just now because it was only recently that I was discussing the depiction of mental illness in YA books with Catie and Cassi. We came to the conclusion that the best books about depression were written for 9-12 year old readers (of course, there are exceptions) and ‘We Can Be Heroes’ definitely fits within this category. It was clear that Bruton knew exactly what she was talking about when it came to talking about all aspects of mental illness and she addressed all the difficult emotions that come hand in hand with it.
I’m only touching the tip of the ice berg with the issues that are covered in this book but to mention them would give too much away.

Recommended For.
People who like books that explore the grittier subjects. People who miss being a kid. People who like biscuits. People who talk like a gangsta rapper when they get excited. People who wish they were superheroes and the star of their own comic book. People who know what Manga is and wouldn’t get confused when you realised you were reading it back to front even though the author states you need to start from the back. People who like to make up stories about their neighbours even if they have never spoken to them (We call the man who lives opposite us Poirot because he… well, looks like ‘ercule.) People who want to build tree houses. People who wish a van full of delicious Indian snacks would come round their street on a regular occasion. People who like to use Jane Austen books to punish their kids.

2 thoughts on “We Can Be Heroes- Catherine Bruton

  1. hahah I love your review! I LOVED this book too… and totally understand what you mean about Uncle Ian… GRRR!!
    I also love the sound of your granny, can I come round for tea? Id like some pudding! haha

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