I have a theory.
Children who grow up in severely dysfunctional, alcoholic, drug addicted homes have trouble growing up to be plain old responsible adults because 1) they don’t see a role model of that kind of an adult and 2) they grow up wanting to save these people who really do love them even though they can’t make breakfast, do the laundry or pay the bills. These children grow up believing in and wanting to be superheroes so they can save the people they love. I think that’s the way those children survive a childhood surrounded by erratic behavior.
The trick of course comes when they have to grow up and be adults and pay their own bills. When capes and Ka-pow no longer save the day or get them through the dark nights. In the children’s book world, we don’t write about the adult part of the equation. We reel the story back to the time and place where the child tries to hold their world together because the adults in charge have let go.
Heck Superhero is the story of one young boy trying, trying, trying to find his mother so he doesn’t have to go to a “frosty” house. It is beautiful, unflinching look at five days when 13 year old Heck is searching everywhere for his mother, trying to survive and cover up the fact that he is homeless. Heck wants to save his mom.
This magnificent book is written by Martine Leavitt and was published by Front Street Press in 2004. Leavitt is on the faculty at Vermont College of FIne Arts.