Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly J. Baptist
Published August 18th 2020 by Crown Books for Young Readers
About the Book: A coming-of-age tale about a boy who discovers a love of poetry after finding his late father’s journal. Adapted from a story that first appeared in Flying Lessons & Other Stories and perfect for fans of The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson.
Isaiah is now the big man of the house. But it’s a lot harder than his dad made it look. His little sister, Charlie, asks too many questions, and Mama’s gone totally silent. Good thing Isaiah can count on his best friend, Sneaky, who always has a scheme for getting around the rules. Plus, his classmate Angel has a few good ideas of her own–once she stops hassling Isaiah.
And when things get really tough, there’s Daddy’s journal, filled with stories about the amazing Isaiah Dunn, a superhero who gets his powers from beans and rice. Isaiah wishes his dad’s tales were real. He could use those powers right about now!
Kelly J. Baptist’s debut novel explores the indomitable spirit of a ten-year-old boy and the superhero strength it takes to grow up.
5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is a middle grades story about loss, addiction, family, grief, love and hope. I was not prepared for the depth of this story. Isaiah, his sister Charlie and his mother are grieving the loss of his dad. It has only been a few months since the seemingly healthy man died of a heart attack and they are all dealing with his loss in different ways. His mother is depressed and turns to the bottle to deal with her grief. Because of that they lose their apartment and end up living in a motel room. Isaiah, who loved to write, has stopped writing and is short tempered. He gets in fights at school and even has a falling out with his best friend, Sneaky. His only relief is to read his dad’s stories called “Isaiah Dun, Superhero” and wish he could be a hero for his family. He tries his hardest to earn money so they can get their apartment back, as well as trying to help take care of his little sister. Charlie is still young, but has her own ways of dealing with things, much of it is to cling to Isaiah.
Charlie has a lot on his shoulders, but there are people to help him, if he is willing to reach out. We meet a librarian, a barber and a neighbour who become heroes to this family. There are even people who might be enemies that turn out to be something else when you take the time to get to know them. This was a heartbreaking story with an uplifting ending. The power of words play a very important role in this story. I think losing my own father when I was only eight, caused me to really connect with Isaiah on that issue. I did not experience the other situations he had to deal with, but my heart broke for this strong, caring yet lonely boy. A definite book for every school library. I recommend everyone read this book, adults and children alike. It will help you to see how circumstances can change your life in an instant. I am so glad I read this one.