Juan Quintana has until morning to decide whether or not to jump the fence and AWOL from Camp Stewart, a boy's ranch run by the Alameda County Probation Department. This is no small decision. You see, Juan has been in and out of the system before, but this time he has sworn to either go straight or escape and flee the country for his native Guatemala.
Why is Juan considering AWOLing? It's got something to do with Tony, an illiterate genius who only wants to protect his kid sister from the ravages of poverty and life with their drug addicted mother. It's got something to do with the sadistic Deron who sits atop the brutal hierarchy that exists among the teenage detainees at Camp Sweeney. And finally, it has something to do with Juan's GED essay about a time he sacrificed his safety and freedom in a heroic act of friendship, loyalty, and compassion. You will have to read No Hero to get the whole story, a young adult drama told from Juan's point of view, in approximately 88,000 words.
I taught "Juan" and his peers for four years. I wrote this novel for two reasons. First, I was moved by the dignity, wit, and resiliency of my students from inner-city Oakland, Berkeley, and Hayward. No Hero portrays urban teens-in-trouble in a more realistic and respectful manner than does most media. Second, as a teacher, I was frustrated by the paucity of reading material relevant to my court school students and written at a level accessible to them. No Hero has a Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level index of 4.5 and a Flesch Reading Ease score of 85.4; most struggling teen readers will be able to read this novel independently.
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