(Note: if you are a member of the NRA, you won't like this book)
We Can Be Heroes is a ghost story about anger, art and activism. There were a lot of things I liked about it, but I loved the friendship between the three girls. Beck and Vivian jumped off the page and Cassie slowly gained substance (you'll get what I did there when you read it!), and the dynamic, sometimes fraught bonds among them were lovely to watch. Also girls standing up for girls never gets old. Just saying.
[I can't help but notice a common thread of anger in a lot of this year's YA. It's an appalling truth that in 2021 there are still so many things to be angry about, and I can only applaud the authors giving us angry characters breaking rules to make things change.] [For more anger, art and activism, look for a One Billion Rising event in your area. Or start one.][We now return you to your regularly scheduled review.]
I loved Beck's use of women from Greek myths in her murals, reclaiming their stories to make sure Cassie's story gets told. Don't you love this great, incisive line: "If the hero dies, they call it a Greek tragedy, but when the heroine dies, it's a romance." Isn't that just the problem with western literature in a nutshell! (It's ever so slightly possible that I enjoyed this novel so much because I agreed so much with its very obvious message. Ahem.)
Okay, I know why this book struck such a chord with me: its theme that the story we tell ourselves—the stories we tell each other—about who we are, about what matters and who matters and how things ought to be—these stories change everything. And we each need the space, the permission, the power, to tell our own stories. That's a message every girl should hear.