Parents' Guide to

We Could Be Heroes

By Joly Herman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Edgy tale of boy with autism navigating school, friendship.

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What you will—and won't—find in this book.

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In this edgy story, a pair of kids with differences make unconventional choices to save a dog from a man that they assume is mistreating the dog. We Could Be Heroes attempts to give voice to a kid with autism whose new friend displays unpredictable and sometimes devious motivation. Because the reader doesn't have a lot of backstory about Maisie, it's unclear why she uses, manipulates, and lies to Hank. The unreliable quality of Maisie's intentions could be confusing to kids in this age group, who might feel a little alienated by the minimalist writing. Why is she lying to Hank? Why does she ask Hank to lie to his parents, to keep secrets, to make plans that could put himself in danger?

Though Hank's parents call her out for her behavior ("Excuse me? Did you use Hank ... ?"), no one explains to Hank why Maisie acts the way that she does. It's revealed in the end that kids were unkind to her because of a condition that she has, but her disparaging tone has an effect on Hank, testing his loyalty to his values and his family. He's offered tools for standing up for himself, like saying, "I want to play my game now." Though well-written and intriguing, having a kid with autism like Hank get blindsided by a frenemy like Maisie might ultimately prove confusing for this age group.

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