by Robert Cormier

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307530813
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 03/19/2013
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 1,059,294
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Robert Cormier (1925–2000) changed the face of young adult literature over the course of his illustrious career. His many books include The Chocolate WarI Am the CheeseFadeTendernessAfter the First DeathHeroesFrenchtown Summer, and The Rag and Bone Shop. In 1991 he received the Margaret A. Edwards Award, honoring his lifetime contribution to writing for teens.

Date of Birth:

January 17, 1925

Date of Death:

November 2, 2000

Place of Birth:

Leominster, Massachusetts

Place of Death:

Leominster, Massachusetts


Fitchburg State College

Read an Excerpt

Oh, I have eyes because I can see and eardrums because I can hear but no ears to speak of, just bits of dangling flesh.  But that's fine, like Dr.  Abrams says, because it's sight and hearing that count and I was not handsome to begin with.  He was joking, of course.  He was always trying to make me laugh.

If anything bothers me, it's my nose.  Or rather, the absence of my nose.  My nostrils are like two small caves and they sometimes get blocked and I have to breathe through my mouth.  This dries up my throat and makes it hard for me to swallow.  I also become hoarse and cough a lot.  My teeth are gone but my jaw is intact and my gums are firm, which makes it possible for me to wear dentures.  In the past few weeks, my gums began to shrink, however, and the dentures have become loose and they click when I talk and slip around inside my mouth.

I have no eyebrows, but eyebrows are minor, really.  I do have cheeks.  Sort of.  I mean, the skin that forms my cheeks was grafted from my thighs and has taken a long time to heal.  My thighs sting when my pants rub against them.  Dr.  Abrams says that all my skin will heal in time and my cheeks will someday be as smooth as a baby's arse.  That's the way he pronounced it: arse.  In the meantime, he said, don't expect anybody to select you for a dance when it's Girls' Choice at the canteen.

Don't take him wrong, please.

He has a great sense of humor and has been trying to get me to develop one.

I have been trying to do just that.  But not having much success. -->

The gun is like a tumor on my thigh as I walk through the morning streets against the wind that never dies down. April sunlight stings my eyes but the wind dissipates its heat, blustering against store windows and kicking debris into the gutters.

At Ninth and Spruce, I pause and look up at the three-decker and the windows of the second floor, where Larry LaSalle can be found at last. Does he suspect my presence here on the street? Does he have a premonition that he has only a few minutes left to live?

I am calm. My heartbeat is normal. What's one more death after the others in the villages and fields of France? The innocent faces of the two young Germans appear in my mind. But Larry LaSalle is not innocent.

The steps leading to the second floor are worn from use and age, and I think of all the people who have climbed stairs like these, who have worked in the shops and come home heavy with weariness at the end of the day. As I stand at the door of Larry LaSalle's tenement, I touch the bulge in my pocket to verify the existence of the gun. The sound of my knocking is loud and commanding in the silent hallway.

No response. I wait. I rap on the door again, hand clenched as a fist this time.

"Come on in, the door's not locked," Larry LaSalle calls out. That voice is unmistakable, a bit feeble now, yet still the voice that cheered us at the Wreck Center.

Hesitant suddenly, uncertain--his voice giving reality to what I must do--I step into the tenement and into the fragrance of pea soup simmering on the black stove, steam rising from a big green pot.

He is sitting in a rocking chair by the black coal stove, and narrows his eyes, squinting to see who has come into his tenement. He is pale, eyes sunk into his sockets like in the newsreel at the Plymouth, and he seems fragile now, as if caught in an old photograph that has faded and yellowed with age. His eyes blink rapidly as if taking quick pictures of me. Is there a glimmer of fear in his eyes? My heart quickens at the possibility.

"Francis, Francis Cassavant," I announce. It's important for him to know immediately who I am. I don't want to waste any time.

"Ah, Francis," he says, his eyes flashing pleasure because he doesn't sense my mission.

"Come in, come in," he says, the old enthusiasm back in his voice.

He rises slowly from the chair, steadying therocker as he lifts himself up. As he holds out his hands in greeting, I go forward to meet him. We shake hands. At the last minute, when it seems we might embrace as old friends and comrades, teacher and pupil, I pull away. His white hands clutch the air before he clasps them together and settles back into the chair.

"Sit, sit," he says, indicating the chair next to the window opposite his own.

"Take off your jacket," he says. "Your Red Sox cap, too, and your scarf . . ."

I don't move. I don't take off anything. I don't plan to stay long, only long enough to carry out my mission.

"Don't be afraid to show your face, Francis. That face, what's left of it, is a symbol of how brave you were, the Silver Star you earned . . ."

an excerpt from Heroes

        My name is Francis Joseph Cassavant and I have just returned to Frenchtown
        in Monument and the war is over and I have no face.

        Oh, I have eyes because I can see and eardrums because I can hear but
        no ears to speak of, just bits of dangling flesh. But that's fine, like
        Dr. Abrams says, because it's sight and hearing that count and I was not
        handsome to begin with. He was joking, of course. He was always trying
        to make me laugh.

        If anything bothers me, it's my nose. Or rather, the absence of my nose.
        My nostrils are like two small caves and they sometimes get blocked and
        I have to breathe through my mouth. This dries up my throat and makes
        it hard for me to swallow. I also become hoarse and cough a lot. My teeth
        are gone but my jaw is intact and my gums are firm, which makes it possible
        for me to wear dentures. In the past few weeks my gums began to shrink,
        however, and the dentures have become loose and they click when I talk
        and slip around inside my mouth.

        I have no eyebrows, but eyebrows are minor, really. I do have cheeks.
        Sort of. I mean, the skin that forms my cheeks was grafted from my thighs
        and has taken a long time to heal. My thighs sting when my pants rub against
        them. Dr. Abrams says that all my skin will heal in time and my cheeks
        will someday be as smooth as a baby's arse. That's the way he pronounced
        it: arse. In the meantime, he said, don't expect anybody to select you
        for a dance when it's Girl's Choice at the canteen.

        Don't take him wrong, please.

        He has a great sense of humor and has been trying to get me to develop

        I have been trying to do just that.

        But not having much success.

Reading Group Guide

1. The title of this novel could be meant ironically. In other words, this may be a book about “heroes” who are not true heroes. How many examples of such non-heroes do you see in the book?

2. The book begins with Francis’s shocking statement that he “has no face.” In the context of the story, what are other metaphorical expressions about “face” that are relevant? How do these apply to Francis?

3. What is your definition of a hero? Francis feels that he is “a fake.” When he threw himself on the grenade it was not to save his comrades but to end his own life. Is a heroic act still heroic even if it’s done for the wrong reasons?

4. Francis says about the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, “We had discovered in one moment on a Sunday afternoon that the world was not a safe place anymore.” (p. 79) What was the significance of that event for America? What happened as a result?

5. Forgiveness is a major theme in many of Cormier’s novels. Trace how each of the three main characters forgive and are forgiven, and how they are affected when forgiveness is withheld and when it is granted. Which is harder–to forgive someone else or yourself?


Before the live bn.com chat, Robert Cormier agreed to answer some of our questions:

Q:  Your books are often much more darkly honest than many novels written for a YA audience. What draws you to write such deeply psychological tales? Is there a line beyond which subject matter is too serious or dark for a young adult audience?

A:  I am drawn to dark themes because I am sent to the typewriter by things that affect me emotionally, that disturb me, upset me, haunt me. They may be personal or something, say, I've read in the newspaper. I think that no theme should be taboo in young adult books -- if properly handled. By properly, I don't mean prettified or toned-down but honest, true, and moral.

Q:  What inspired you to write about World War II now? Was there an event in particular that got you thinking about this story?

A:  Heroes was inspired by the 50th anniversary of D-Day, when newspapers and television brought back the events of that memorable day. I was not involved, but people I knew here in my hometown were. Some came forth after half a century and talked about it. I had also visited the Normandy beaches recently and was overwhelmed by the echoes of what happened that day.

Q:  Have you seen the new Steven Spielberg film, "Saving Private Ryan"? What do you think of his portrayal of World War II?

A:  I've seen "Saving Private Ryan." It is without a doubt the most honest portrayal of the D-Day landing ever filmed for the public. It haunted me for days afterward.

Q:  Although it's clear that you haven't had the same experience as your main character, how much, if any, of Heroes reflects your own experience? Is the character of Francis based on a real person?

A:  As to Heroes, Francis returned from the war is entirely fictional. Francis before the war, at the Wreck Center, is somewhat of a self-portrait (Ping-Pong is the only sport I've been good at!). What I tried to do was to show ordinary young men performing heroic acts without knowing they were being heroic.

Q:  Go to your nearest window and describe for us what you see.

A:  Because my wife, Connie, and I, are at our summer place, my window looks out over a placid pond with an island almost in the middle of it, tall pines guarding the waters, on which only small boats and canoes are allowed. The peaked roofs of two cottages emerge from smaller trees across the way. Some lily pads give what I like to think is a touch of Monet to the pond. I sometimes see a blue heron in shallow water near the opposite shore, but that spot is vacant and kind of lonely today.

Customer Reviews

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Heroes 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
browneyedgirl94 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Just before my English class ended for the semester my English teacher had us read this book. I wasn't expecting to like it because I don't generally like stuff I have to read for school. I loved it! It was a very well written book.
CTieyah on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This book takes place during the time of World War II. Francis Cassavant is a young boy (early teens) who is in love with a young girl, Nicole Renard. After a town hero (and war hero), Larry LaSalle comes back home, Francis witnesses the unthinkable act Larry does to Nicole. He joins the military, hoping to be killed in war, but instead gets his face blown off by a grenade and is sent back home a hero. Francis¿ only goal is to find and kill Larry LaSalle and then end his own life. In the end, Larry kills himself, Francis talks with Nicole one last time, and he is considering to write a book one day.I did not like this book at all. There was no suspense or excitement really. And the end was not satisfying. I think Larry should have been found out publicly to even further kill his ¿good¿ name before committing suicide. And something about the healing of Francis¿ face after cosmetic surgery or anything definite about his future would have helped the ending have a better closure. It was dull and depressing to me. There just wasn¿t any justice served for the cruel acts Larry committed¿not satisfied at all!Two extensions?! How am I going to come up with two extensions for a book I wouldn¿t even use in my classroom? I guess an easy one would be to have the students research World War II and compare what they find with how the guys acted when they returned from war and provide an explanation for that behavior. Another extension could be to write a paper about what they believe has a more powerful effect on people: love or war.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I finished this book in about an hour. It wasn't much. It's an okay story, the author could have developed a little more. I could say that it is of literary value and a student should read it. In class we had read the first two chapters and practically the whole class got interested. I mean a man without a face, that's pretty cool. I waited a long time to finally read it, but then I realized that I definitely did not need to spend seven bucks on this book. But either way I guess it was worth it because now I wish that there was a sequel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Heroes is a story told by Francis Cassavant. The novelist Robert Cormier writes this tale starting when Francis was eighteen and he already fought in a war and lost his face. He lost most of his face when he landed on a grenade to save his own soldiers. He was awarded a Silver Star of Bravery and was called a hero for doing so. His face was so horrible he kept it covered with a white scarf. He had no nose, just holes that he called ¿his caves¿. He also felt he had one last mission when he returned to his small hometown of Frenchtown. To kill Larry LaSalle, his childhood idle. Francis thinks Larry ruined his life. As a result, Francis lost his first true love, Nicole Renords. When he met her for the first time in seventh grade he described her as: ¿the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.¿ As the story unfolds, you will find yourself asking who is Larry and why must he die. While Francis waits to find Larry, he thinks about everything in the past that got him to this point. This leaves the reader to wonder who the hero really is. Francis is tortured not only by his pain from his scarred face but also by his memories from his past. Before the war Francis knew Larry LaSalle as someone who helped him and other kids feel good about themselves. Larry ran the local recreation center, which later was always referred to, as the Wreck Center. During this time, he also met his true love, Nicole Renords. Life was good but that happiness soon ended. Dec. 7, 1941, Japan attacks Pearl Harbor and this starts the war for the country. Francis remembers feeling so proud of Larry for signing up for war until the night before he is to leave, the unbelievable happens. What happens that night with Larry and Nicole will haunt him forever. Francis feels like dying so he ends up joining the war and hoping he will not return. What could be so bad? Now both heroes are back in town and Nicole is still missing. When Francis finds Larry face to face what will happen? Does he complete his last mission? Will Francis ever find Nicole? You must read the book to find out. Heroes kept me turning page after page just to see what happens next. The shocking surprises all throughout the book keeps your eyes glued to the book until the end. The ending leaves you wanting more which makes you have to think on your own about what you think happens next. It read like a good mystery and came together like a puzzle. It was easy to put yourself in the place of the characters and feel what they were feeling. I would recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Don't be fooled by the title theres no super heroes in it. This book is about a war veteran named Francis who is going to kill his childhood hero who attacked his freind. I liked this book because it flashbacks to his childhood you find out how he grew up while he is trying to kill him. And the anwsers to all your questions are slowly revealed. This book has action and mystery. Will Francis get revenge? Read the book and find out!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The beginning really grabbed me and kept me into the whole thing. It made me see his torn face throughout the book and gave me a sympothy for Francis. Cormier had me feel Francis' anger towards LaSalle after what he did to his girlfriend Nicole. Heroes is a tradgic tale that kept me wanting to read more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that this book was a pretty darn good book. It is about a man who went to the war and later got his face blown off. He then starts to look for the man who about took his life away...Larry LaSalle. Later in the book he finds Larry, only to not kill him. I found this to be very awkward. Thinking through the whole book that he was going to kill the man that almost took his life away. I felt sorry for this man, even though it isn't based on a true story, I now know what it would be like walking the streets by yourself and people not knowing who you are because you have to wear a ball cap and a towel over your face.
Guest More than 1 year ago
it was a good book considering some war books it was sad, romantic, and the ending makes u think a essential question find out if u read it i read this book in my class i liked it
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was great. It covered so many different aspects that could be identified with the target age. The suspense and cliff-hangers that Cormier intends are great. From the first page when the reader is given all this information on francis and his face... it leaves you wanting more and by the time you know it you've read the whole book. I wish there was a mini drama or film which could show the real true heroes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Heroes, by Robert Cormeir, is a wonderful book. I would stay up most of the night reading it. I think that it had a lot of feelings in it, how Francis had to live his life as a stranger because his face was blown off by a grenade. This book is probably one of the most interesting ones that I've read in a while. It is so sad what happens to Francis's girlfriend, Nicole, and how one night can change the rest of your life. If anyone is looking for a great book to read, read this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading Heros. Though I thought it wasn't one of Cormiers best novels it was still a great Psycological Thriller. Short and Sweet. Good read for young adults.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is the greatest and most discriptive narrative writing I have ever read!!! I give this two thumbs up!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Heros is a fictional book written by Robert Cormier. Francis Cassavant tells his life's story. Larry LaSalle is his boyhood mentor and hero. Through Larry LaSalle Francis is able to gain confidence and self esteem. Nicole is a young woman Francis falls in love with. Larry LaSalle betrays Francis' friendship, and Francis belames himself for Larry's harms. As a result of his guilt Francis looses his newfound self esteem. He enters the Army in World War II to get himself killed. He slowly regains his self esteem after a serious war injury and an attempt to even the score with Larry LaSalle. In the end, Francis finally learns that he is his own hero. He then begins to rebuild his life. Heroes is an interesting and enjoyable story. Robert Cormier does an excellent job describing the tension and anxiety of a young man trying to fit in and be liked. Francis' feelings toward Nicole also realistically portray human emotions. A reader can very much relate to the story. I highly recommend the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is really good. I read this for an 8th grade Lit. project, and I never put it down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book, I chose to read this book for a 'book talk' in my english class because it was short. Well a huge story was crammed into this small book, and it was a thorough, exciting, suspense filled story as well. I am looking into reading more books by him for more 'book talks'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Heroes was a great!! If you like to read books that have problems that u dont know what is going to happen next then u should read this book. There are many kinds of views displayed in 'Heroes'. Robert Cormier, has very good discriptions in the story with a persons feelings, emotions, actions, and reactions. I choose Robert Cormier book 'Heroes' because if has a good sence of direction toward life today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Heroes by Robert Cormier This was a very good book, and I really liked it. And I sujest that if you have a chance to read this book you should. I don¿t want to tell you the whole book so im going to just tell you that its about a guy who went to war and when he comes back from war he wants to kill the person that sent him to war.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
yeah right.. good book, my arse!!!