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Don't Call Me Hero

Don't Call Me Hero

by Ray Villareal

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Rawly Sanchez's life sucks. It's Friday night, and he's struggling with algebra homework in his mom's restaurant, which is also on the brink of failure. Ever since his dad died, his mother has had to work twice as hard. And starting next Saturday, algebra tutoring means he won't get to see his brother Jaime, who's in prison.

His whole life takes a turn for


Rawly Sanchez's life sucks. It's Friday night, and he's struggling with algebra homework in his mom's restaurant, which is also on the brink of failure. Ever since his dad died, his mother has had to work twice as hard. And starting next Saturday, algebra tutoring means he won't get to see his brother Jaime, who's in prison.

His whole life takes a turn for the better when he rescues a famous young woman from a flooded creek. The dramatic rescue is recorded and soon Rawly is being hailed as a hero. Suddenly, every reporter in town wants to interview him. Even kids who avoided him in the past now want to hang out with him. It's impossible to resist the popular quarterback's invitation to hang out, even if it means ditching his best friend. And best of all, Miyoko, the most beautiful girl in school, wants to go out with him. But, do they really like him? Or do they just want to take advantage of his new-found fame?

Acclaimed author and educator Ray Villareal writes another fast-paced novel for teens about the value of celebrity and true friendship. Spotlighting teens' interest in comic books and super heroes, even the most reluctant readers will be sucked in.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Mary Ann Darby
Ninth grader Rawley Sanchez is not pleased with his life: he has to work after school and weekends at his mother's failing Mexican restaurant, his older brother is in prison after a drunk-driving incident killed a woman, and he is not sure his best friend, Nevin, really has his best interests at heart. At school he is worried about passing algebra and trying to get the girl he likes to notice him. Why can't his life be more like the heroes in the comic books he takes solace in? And then it happens—one rainy night he saves the life of a young woman who turns out to be a famous model, and the whole incident is caught on tape by a news crew. Now Rawley has a whole new set of challenges—suddenly everyone wants something from him, and the lines of friendship and loyalty become horribly blurred. When Rawley finally figures out what is important, he is much happier, and the world around him evens out. Although this novel has the formula to be a fun and engaging read, the characters are fairly one dimensional and too stereotypical, and the writing throughout the novel is pedestrian. That being said, this will probably find a receptive audience with middle school boys who struggle with the difficulties in their own world, especially those who are fans of comic book heroes. Villareal clearly knows his audience, and this is one to hand to those young men in junior high with reading motivation issues. Reviewer: Mary Ann Darby
Children's Literature - Karen McCoy
Rawly Sanchez wishes he could be more like the comic book heroes he reads about. Instead, he is stuck putting in numerous hours at his mother's Mexican restaurant while trying to pass Algebra, a subject he hates. To improve his failing grade, he has to attend Saturday classes, preventing him from visiting his brother in prison. If that were not enough, his so-called friend Nevin does not seem to appreciate everything Rawly does for him. But all that changes when Rawly saves a famous model, Nikki Demetrius, from drowning. All of a sudden Rawly is thrust into the spotlight, getting all kinds of attention from everyone—from national news networks to the popular kids at school—including Miyoko, his crush. But Rawly soon realizes that his newfound "friends" are using his fame for their own purposes. Star football player Cruz Vega wants Rawly to introduce him to a local sportscaster, and Miyoko wants to bring a bunch of her friends to meet Nikki. Even Rawly's mother wants to ask the Demetrius family for money! As Rawly faces difficult decisions, he has to figure out what kind of hero he would like to be—and determine who his real friends are in the process. This is a great book for Latino teens, with accurate cultural references, an admirable protagonist, and good examples of heroism and integrity. While the inciting event does not occur until 100 pages in, and the ending feels a bit rushed, this book would nonetheless make a good addition to classrooms with reluctant readers. Reviewer: Karen McCoy
School Library Journal
Gr 6�10—Rawly Sanchez struggles with a brother in prison, working at his mom's Mexican restaurant that isn't doing too well, an unrequited crush, and a best friend who may not be truly a friend. He loves comic books and heroes. In a not so subtle plot device, he is in the right place at the right time, and he saves a woman who gets caught in a flash flood. The rescue is captured by the local news, and the woman turns out to be a famous model. Rawly is hailed a hero, suddenly dealing with the spotlight and all it brings: popularity, girls, jealousy, advice on how to collect money, and, most importantly, who he is and what he really believes. The ending is a bit abrupt, but, on the plus side, not all of the threads are resolved neatly. This is a welcome addition for libraries short on books about Latino males.—Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Oakland, CA
Kirkus Reviews

After saving the life of a famous model, a 14-year-old Mexican-American boy learns the pressures of popularity and the definition of true heroism.

Dallas freshman Rawly Sánchez knows that life is not perfect. His older brother Jaime is in prison, while his mother's Mexican restaurant is barely staying afloat. Now, he can't even visit his brother on Saturdays anymore, or he will miss the required tutoring for the algebra class he is failing. Small bursts of happiness come in the comic books he loves and in hanging out with his nerdy, often-annoying, wisecracking Jewish best friend Nevin Steinberg. Things take a turn for the worse when someone accidentally sets a pig loose in his mom's restaurant, and the incident makes the local news. Then, Nevin talks Rawly into performing as a duo at the school talent show, where he makes a fool of himself in front of his crush, Miyoko. Everything changes when Rawly misses his bus stop and ends up rescuing 22-year-old model Nikki Demetrius when her car plunges into a river. Instantly, Rawly is on the local and national news, hailed as a hero for saving Nikki's life. The third-person narration follows Rawley's journey as he learns who his real friends are and the difference between comic-book and real-world heroes.

A good story with some unexpected twists. (Fiction. 12-15)

Product Details

Arte Publico Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
11 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Ray Villareal is the author of five novels for young adults that capture the angst of adolescent life: Body Slammed! (Piñata Books, 2012); Don’t Call Me Hero (Piñata Books, 2011); Who’s Buried in the Garden? (Piñata Books, 2009), winner of LAUSD’s Westchester Fiction Award; Alamo Wars (Piñata Books, 2008); and My Father, the Angel of Death (Piñata Books, 2006), which was nominated to the 2008-2009 Lone Star Reading List and named to The New York Public Library’s 2007 Books for the Teen Age.

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