In Their Words:
After landing a lead role in the high school musical, freshman Liliana Faltin is hoping for some stability and happiness in her life. But her mom’s live-in boyfriend has a thing for booze, touching, and telling dark family secrets. And the other people in her world aren’t exactly role-model material, either. Her unreliable father cries a lot, wears blue tights, and drives a little beige car. Her backstabbing best friend cares more about being popular than being real. And her older, married sister is showing up with big purple bruises on her face. Then there’s Paolo, who’s cute and nice and makes Lily want to recite romantic movie lines.
To deal, Lily writes letters to John Wayne. Sure, he’s a dead movie cowboy, but at least the Duke knew about doing the right thing, about being a hero.
Now, Lily just needs to figure out how to be a hero herself.
I enjoyed this book, but it took awhile to get going. It’s a pretty fast read though. The characters are all well-developed for the most part, although it can be hard to keep track of them at times. There are a lot of elements at work here, but the author makes them work, and mostly keeps them from getting too confusing. The main character, Liliana, is easy to like, and you really feel for what she’s going through.
Liliana’s budding romance with Paolo is, for the record, adorable.
But I’m not a fan of the title. “Girl, Hero”? Is it up to debate whether girls can be heroes? Maybe 50 years ago, but now I think we’re a bit beyond that. Why not just call it “Hero”? Or, better yet, “Saddle Up,” which is a line Lilianna quotes to herself over and over in the book. Anyway, they could have done better.
The author has a very strong voice though, and I plan to check out more of her books. I’m especially interested to read Tips on Having a Gay (ex)Boyfriend.
I have some major problems with the design of this book. Mainly, the copyright information is directly facing the first chapter, and it’s really distracting. I could maybe excuse this if they were trying to conserve pages, but there’s a completely superfluous half-title page before the title page. They could have easily moved stuff around to accommodate the copyright page somewhere else, but instead it just looks messy and amateurish.
The cover itself, however, is good. The shadow of the cowboy behind her looks great, and totally conveys how Liliana is looking to a classic icon for strength, in her own way.
3/5. I liked the book, especially the concept, but it didn’t strike me as all that special.