Cormier, Robert. Heroes. New York: Laurel Leaf, 1998.
I enjoyed this book when I first read it, so I decided to read it again to refresh my memory of the plot and characters. This book alternates between the present and the past. In the present, Francis is a veteran, just returning from WWII. He had stepped on a grenade and blown much of his face off; therefore, he must wear a scarf and this leaves him unrecognizable. His goal is to get revenge on Larry LaSalle, who raped the girl he loved before also shipping off to War. In the past, we see Francis meeting and falling in love with Nicole. The neighborhood Rec center opens with Larry as the head, teaching the guiding the youth of the community. And, then, Larry raping Nicole one night while home on leave from the Army.
You have to feel sorry for Francis. His parents are dead. He never got the girl he was in love with, and he didn't reall y have much in the way of self esteem and friends. He comes home to see Nicole and she and her family has disappeared. He doesn't have a face. It's all very sad. The novel is gripping and you really get inside Francis' head. This novel is also short, so it might be a good choice for a reluctant reader although it should be noted that this novel is less plot-driven and more character-driven, so it might turn some reluctant readers off. Overall, a good choice for all readers.