HERO OF LESSER CAUSES
Volume 20 Number 5
Hero of Lesser Causes is Julie Johnston's first young adult novel. Johnston has created a most memorable character in thirteen-year-old Keely Connor. Keely has convinced herself that she must be the champion of all things great, and why not? It is 1946 in the Ottawa Valley, and World War II has just ended. The timing is right for great and heroic feats.
Keely's older brother is stricken with the dreaded body-withering disease polio, and her care-free world comes abruptly to an end. With her own desire to pluck Patrick off his suicidal path, it is no wonder that Keely so readily accepts the tea-reading predictions of Nurse Peggy. Keely, outfitted with dreams of silver stallions and doing wonderful things, resolves to battle the forces of evil and Patrick's stubborn will to die. She musters support for her crusade to free her brother's spirit and to reunite Nurse Peggy with her missing beau. However, Patrick's dogged determination to end it all nearly undoes the good that Keely so desperately wishes to accomplish. Even Patrick's constant reminders, "Keep in mind this is the real life, Keel," do not daunt the resolute teen.
This is a very funny and insightful novel for young people, in which the author's desire for psychological and medical accuracy is exemplified. Her phrasing and characterization provide a sense of reality and immediacy that will doubtless appeal to many young adults. Any school would do well to add this title to its collection.
Floyd Spracklin is English Department Head and a Grade 4 teacher at G.C. Rowe Junior High School in Corner Brook, NF.
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