Heroes Don't Run

Heroes Don't Run

4.2 22
by Harry Mazer

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Adam Pelko witnessed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that killed his father, a lieutenant on the USS Arizona. Even though



Adam Pelko witnessed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that killed his father, a lieutenant on the USS Arizona. Even though Adam is underage, he defies his mother's wishes and enlists in the Marines. Sent first to boot camp, then to Okinawa, he experiences the stark reality of war firsthand — the camaraderie and the glory as well as the grueling regimen, the paralyzing fear, and death. And at every turn, Adam must confront memories of his father.

In the concluding volume of his World War II trilogy, Harry Mazer masterfully illustrates Adam's journey as he navigates brutal circumstances that no boy should know.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
PW starred A Boy at War: A Novel of Pearl Harbor, saying, "Mazer successfully fuses a strong portrayal of Adam's transformation with both a vivid account of the attack and subtle suggestions of the complexities of Japanese-American relations as played out in particular lives." Harry Mazer continued Adam Pelko's story in A Boy No More, and now concludes with Heroes Don't Run: A Novel of the Pacific War, in which Adam, now 17, enlists in the Marines in 1944 to face combat on Okinawa. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
At seventeen, Adam Pelko should be preparing for his senior year of high school. World War II is raging, however, and the young man is determined to join the Marines-with or without his mother's permission. Adam's father died during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and his mother refuses to let her son enlist. Unfazed Adam persuades his mother to allow him to finish his last year of high school in New York State with his grandfather, a World War I veteran. Shortly after arriving in New York, Adam convinces Grandpa to sign papers allowing him to join the Marines, where he is sent to Okinawa, site of some of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific War. During an intense firefight, Adam's life is saved when his platoon leader sacrifices himself to shield Adam during a mortar attack. Mazer creates vivid descriptions of the final year of World War II, from boot camp and battles to Adam's recovery from his injuries and his difficulties readjusting to civilian life after the war ends. Adam's experiences, written in short chapters and letters to family and friends, describe a young man who wrestles with being called a hero when other soldiers did not return home alive. Younger readers interested in World War II stories will find Mazer's book to be a compelling conclusion to A Boy No More (Simon & Schuster, 2004) and a fitting companion to the author's critically acclaimed The Last Mission (Delacorte, 1979) Librarians willing to push this title should see fruit for their labors. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2005, Simon & Schuster, 128p., Ages11 to 15.
—Jay Wise
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-In this final entry in a trilogy about a boy coming of age during World War II, Mazer shows how his hero handles actual military service. The book brings a sense of completion to Adam Pelko's story, which began in Honolulu just before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Determined to fight as a Marine, Adam, now 17, talks his grandfather into letting him enlist, although he knows his mother will be furious. Boot camp, with its indignities and hardships, is vividly portrayed, and when Adam arrives in the Pacific arena as a full-fledged soldier, Mazer does a good job of depicting the mind-numbing slog of war. More realistic than many novels about combat for this audience, violence is present without being glorified or unrealistically softened. Adam's first-person narrative brings immediacy to his experiences, but most of the other soldiers and civilians lack focus. Characters who were important in previous titles stay mostly offstage, making it possible to appreciate this offering without reading the others. A historical note covers the basic facts for those wanting to know more. A quick, action-packed read.-Carol A. Edwards, Douglas County Libraries, Castle Rock, CO Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The battle for Okinawa, in 1945, was the last major battle of WWII, and Adam Pelko enlisted just in time to be there. His father had died at Pearl Harbor and Adam hopes to honor him by fighting admirably. But the war is horrible, and Adam comes to know war, death and injury for the first time, returning home a changed man. It's a familiar story, told here in telegraphic, first-person prose, strong on plot but short on character development, perfect for the reluctant or inexperienced reader. The historical note is the best part of this volume, full of interesting details about the battle and the end of the war. Timed to coincide with the anniversaries of V-J Day and the end of WWII, this conclusion to the trilogy begun with A Boy at War: A Novel of Pearl Harbor (2001) and A Boy No More (2004) will attract young history enthusiasts and be valuable in school units on the war. (Fiction. 9-14)

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Aladdin Historical Fiction Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Heroes Don't Run

A Novel of the Pacific War
By Harry Mazer

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Copyright © 2005 Harry Mazer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0689855346

Chapter 1

In the summer of 1944, just before my senior year of high school, I took the train across country from Bakersfield, California, where we were living, to visit my grandfather in upstate New York. I hadn't seen him since before my father died at Pearl Harbor, and I told my mother that if things worked out I might stay and finish school there. My mother liked the idea. She thought I needed a man's influence.

What I didn't tell her was that I intended to join the marines as soon as I got to my grandfather's farm. He was an old soldier from World War I. He'd been wounded and lost his arm serving in the Austro-Hungarian army. His son -- my father -- had served too. He was a U.S. naval officer and died for our country. My grandfather would understand that I had to join up now, that I couldn't wait until next year when I was eighteen and didn't need anyone's permission. The war might be over by then.

"Good if it's over," my mother said. "Good. There's been enough sacrifice in this family. And if you have to go, you can wait until they call you, until your turn comes and you're drafted. Wait like everyone else, Adam. The war isn't going away that fast, anyway. We can only wish!"

But the war was going to end; that was the point. It had been going on for four years now, and people were saying it was only a matter of time before it was over. I'd break out in a sweat just thinking about it. I didn't want to be left behind. I wanted to serve, to be part of this thing my father had given his life for. I didn't want the war to end, and all I'd be able to say was, No I didn't serve, I was right here the whole war, safe in Bakersfield.

Living in Bakersfield, you'd never even know there was a war on. Yes, there was gas rationing and food stamps and Mom working in a war factory, but it was such a sleepy, sunny, boring place. One boring day was like the next. Hot summer days, and nights full of the sounds of insects. Bakersfield was killing me.

All I could think about was joining up. I'd wake up at night and feel my father right there in my attic room, in his navy whites, looking down at me in bed, wondering what kind of son of his I was. Saying, Up, up! Sign up. What are you waiting for, son?

When I told my mother I was going to visit my grandfather, my little sister, Bea, said, "I want to go see Grandpa too."

"No," I said. I was too sharp with her. Mom wasn't about to let Bea leave home at the age of seven, but I was so afraid my plan would get screwed up that I blurted out, "Just me!"

Bea's face swelled, and she ran out of the room. "Hey, Bea, I'm sorry." I went after her and tried to pick her up.

"Don't!" She was getting too big for that, anyway. "You're a drip, Adam!"

"Come on. Come on, don't be that way. You want to go for a walk?"

"Maybe I do and maybe I don't," she said.

We walked over to the playground, where I had to push her on the swing for as long as she wanted.

That night, after supper, I wrote to my friend Davi Mori. I had to tell somebody, and Davi was the one. He and I had talked about joining up for years now, ever since Pearl Harbor. Davi was in Manzanar, the internment camp way out on the other side of the Sierra Mountains.

Davi's whole family was there. They'd been interned along with other Japanese Americans who lived on the West Coast. It was a dirty deal. They hadn't done anything. It was the war, and they looked like the enemy, even though most of them had been born in this country.

Dear Davi,

No more talk. I'm ready. I'm going to do it. You said talk to my mom. I tried that, and she said what I told you she'd say, NO. No, she won't sign for me. I didn't get excited, I didn't start yelling. It was frustrating, but I was reasonable. You would have been proud of me. But my mom -- she was twice as reasonable. She's got reasons you wouldn't even dream of.

She's afraid I'm going to get hurt, that's what it comes down to. Well, so I'll get a Purple Heart. Wouldn't I like that!

What's my mother afraid of? I'm not going to get killed. Look what happened to you and me and Martin at Pearl Harbor when we were in the rowboat, and the Japanese bombers came, and they blew us out of the water. What happened? We got scratched up--well, worse than that for Martin--but we came through that okay. We're all still here. By the way, have you heard from big old Martin Kahahawai?

Next time you hear from me, I'll be in the marines.

Your friend,


Copyright © 2005 by Harry Mazer


Excerpted from Heroes Don't Run by Harry Mazer Copyright © 2005 by Harry Mazer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Harry Mazer is the author of many books for young readers, including Please, Somebody Tell Me Who I Am; My Brother Abe; the Boy at War trilogy; The Wild Kid; The Dog in the Freezer; The Island Keeper; and Snow Bound. His books have won numerous honors, including a Horn Book honor and an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults citation. Along with his wife, Norma Fox Mazer, Harry received an ALAN award in 2003 for outstanding contribution to adolescent literature. He lives in Montpelier, Vermont.

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Heroes Don't Run (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a nine year old boy and I loved the book. It was easy to read and it kept me very interested. It was out of this world!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the beast book ever because it wasnt so action packed and its sad when his friend dies ( ben) because he was the beast marine ever .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First 2ooks were amazing a need to read series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
the book heroes Don't run by Harry Mazer is a very inresting book. you should read it.
QMS More than 1 year ago
Heroes Don't Run is the last book of a series that depicts the life of a boy, who grows up and reaches adulthood in the Second World War. He faces many hardships and misfortunes, such as having no permanent home during his high school years, because of his father's military service, having a close friend gravely injured in the attack on Pearl Harbor, and his father dying in the same attack. He later enlists himself into the marines, and undergoes the rigorous training of a boot camp. He is sent to fight the Japanese on Okinawa, where he learns the true pain of war by losing one of his best friends. It reveals the true pain of war, but also how a person can brave the most deadly of circumstances, and make transition from boy to manhood. It is highly recommended by me.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Heroes Don't Run is about a young boy named Adam Pelko defies his mother's wishes and enlists in the Marines. Although he was underage he wanted to serve in WW2 to defend his father's name, but the war ended before he got out of boot camp in BAKERSFIELD. His father who was a lieutenant on the USS Arizona. He was killed in the attack on Perl Harbor. I think this book is very good because I like books that deal with war. I think you should buy this book only if you like stuff about war. If you do buy this book you will find it very interesting that he disobeys his mother's wishes.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Everything about this book is pretty cool. It is a historical fiction, about a seventeen year old boy named Adam it was inspiring because he was under age when he joined the Marines. His Dad was killed in Pearl Harbor the attack on Pearl Harbor destroyed more than 360 ships, and killed or wounded over 9,700 soldiers. His Dad was a Lieutenant in the Navy when he was killed. He is a very intense, brave boy who has a family of a lifetime. Anyway, Adam¿s story is very intense, with a lot of brutal combat that neither he, nor any boy needs to know. He needs to have more experience than he does. When Adam got to boot camp at Parris Island everyone was terrible on the obstacle course including Adam but in several weeks Adam made record time. His Drill Instructor was Sergeant Bessie he was strict. He learned what it means to be a Marine. Adam left for advanced training at Camp Lejeune, his friends Ben, Roy and Andy went there also. It was a hard core camp, everything they did with rifle in hand. After Camp Lejeune they rode a train to San Diego, it took two weeks to get there. When they arrived there, Adam took Ben to visit his mom and sister Bea. His mom had cooked them a big dinner. In the distance they could see smoke, and smell fire and burning oil. There has been a battle here and it¿s not over. Gunfire, bombings, explosions and kamikazes were everywhere. They had landed in Okinawa. They unloaded the LST (Landing Ship for Troops) we loaded trucks and took off. They drove to the other side of the island. The four of them were split up and assigned duties. They fought the Japanese for ten days there, and then they went back to headquarters. Adam was looking for his three friends, when he found Roy he knew Andy had been sent to Hawaii because of an infection. They looked for Ben, and ask around, sadly they found out Ben was gone, no not home, but Heaven. Adam went back to the front line he and two other guys were in a shell hole, when they were hit by a mortar shell. One of them died. Which one? The books strengths are the variety of emotions, places and characters. The books weakness is the storyline may have too much blood and gore for some readers. I would recommend this book to a reader that enjoys War stories.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Heroes Don¿t Run by Henry Mazer is based on a 17 year old son named Adam Pelko. Although Adam¿s dad died at Pearl Harbor, he wants to join into the Marines. So Adam goes to ¿see¿ his grandpa in New York. But he really wants his grandpa to sign his application for the marines. Heroes don¿t run reminds me of my grandpa. My grandpa went to Vietnam to fight in the war. That¿s how it reminds me of my grandpa. The book was excellent and if you like war stories this book is definitely for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Heroes Don't Run by Harry Mazer was outstanding! This authortells a story of a 14yr old boy and his dream to fight in World War 2. The boy, named Adam, travels by train to his grandfather's farm house in New York. Against his mother's whishes, Adam enlists Marines.I like this story because, it tells, in first person, how adams story goes from life in Los Angeles, to life in the Marines.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If i rated it 1 star its because i didn't read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The vocabulary was very bad. The story wasn't interesting. The war scene was short. I recommend it for little children.