“Talk is cheap, which explains a lot. Explains why every day of my life has been a shouting match, why, even with the phone help away from my ear, all I could hear was banter. White noise.
We might not have the money for much else, but we can always afford an argument.”
Sonny and Jamm are brothers, Jamm has spent his entire life on the look out for Sonny, who tends to live in the moment. But when Jamm is in Afghanistan and Sonny has to fend for himself a bit more. Jamm returns home on leave and instantly Sonny is aware that there is a change in him. Their relationship was never brilliant so when Jamm acts completely out of character and Sonny tries to get help from their friends and family they all think he’s just jealous that Jamm has returned a hero. Sonny has to fix Jamm himself, but just how far can you go to help someone who doesn’t even think they need it?
I read and adored Being Billy by Phil Earle so when this landed on my doorstep I know I had to check it out and quickly. Between moving house and a friends hen do I had gone on a bit of a reading slump purely because I was too busy for books. Heroic was just what I needed to pull myself out of that slump though and I very quickly emerged myself into the world and though the world was terrible, the book was fantastic.
The story is powerful, but I expected nothing less from Phil Earle to be perfectly honest. The bond between the brothers is clear from the start, you can tell they drive one another crazy but love each other all the same and I loved their relationship because of how real it felt. Told in duel narrative for the first part of the book we get Sonny’s story from The Ghost, which is the name of the estate the boys grew up on, and Jammys from Afghanistan. Both worlds are shocking but obviously Jammy’s is terrifying and there’s a lot of graphic imagery. The story then shifts as Jamm comes home but the chapters from his point of view actually drop off a little bit. I liked that this as it reflected what was going on in the book but I did miss Jamm a bit.
The characters felt real and I could tell that Phil Earle has obviously been in contact with kids of teen age. The attitudes of the boys and the way they behaved reflected what I see all the time with my family of that age, although magnified a lot due to the harsh environment they had grown up in. It was awful to think that the events from the book happen in run-down estates in cities all over the country but I am not naive enough to think that they don’t.
Even though the language, imagery and events of Heroic are pretty graphic I would seriously recommend this book to any teenager. I think they should definitely have this as recommended reading in libraries and schools and I will not fail to pass my copy on to anyone I can within the 13-18 age range.
Heroic will be published tomorrow, April 25th, by Puffin. My copy was sent by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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