Heck Superhero

Heck Superhero

Martine Leavitt

An abandoned teenager’s superhero-fed imagination confronts life.

A comedy-drama about a 13-year-old boy who finds himself on the streets when his incapable mother abandons reality.Heck’s unique way of looking at the world, his obvious affection for his mother, and his innate goodness make him an appealing protagonist. The story chronicles the sudden evaporation of structure in Heck’s life and his brave but doomed attempts to muster sufficient power to restore it.


  • Ages: 11 - 14
  • Grades: 6 - 9
  • Pages: 144

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Recent Reviews

This splendid comedy-drama about a 13-year-old boy who finds himself on the streets when his incapable mother abandons reality, will appeal to both reluctant and serious readers. … Leavitt’s superb writing displays her own soaring imagination, with original, apt, quirky metaphors that keep her narrative zooming along. The lightness of her language yet carries a moving story of a spunky kid who learns he has to live in the real world. . .In an excruciating balancing act, Leavitt looks deep inside the mind of a homeless boy determined to save his mother and himself through his good deeds, and she manages to get readers breathing again by making them laugh. Hauntingly original.

—Kirkus Reviews

Heck, desperate and homeless, emerges as a true hero, a complex boy armed with optimism, wit, heart, and commitment.

—Horn Book

Engrossing, evocative. ...

—Booklist

Credible characters are placed in recognizable situations to create a poignant, fast-paced, and believable look at homelessness, mental illness, and the way one boy copes with their impact.

—School Library Journal

This slim book is a fast read that will appeal to teens who enjoyed Terry Trueman's Inside Out and Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time. Heck's unique way of looking at the world, his obvious affection for his mother, and his innate goodness make him an appealing protagonist. Readers familiar with comic book clichés will find more meaning and humor in Heck's search, but non-comic fans also will enjoy Heck's adventure. A happy but realistic ending makes his story a nice contrast to many bleak teen novels.

—Voice of Youth Advocates

Leavitt paints with painful clarity the dilemma of a boy trying not to slide into oblivion while trying to do the best he can for the parent he adores. The narrative is quietly eloquent about the sudden evaporation of structure in Heck’s life and his brave but doomed attempts to muster sufficient power to restore it. There’s also richness in the cast of characters he caroms off of, ranging from concerned authorities to suspicious adults to kids even more troubled than he, as he wanders the streets in search of his mother; his own character is defined not only by his determination and creative fantasy but also the loyal affection he’s earned from those who know him, such as his best friend, Spence, and his supportive art teacher. Imaginative yet sympathetic, this is a telling portrait of a kid whom readers will be glad to see find his way back into the mainstream.

—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Heck Superhero is filled with imagination and will keep you in suspense.... You won’t want to put this book down.

—Library Media Connection

I just finished Heck Superhero and think it's one of the best books I’ve read! With Heck, Leavitt created an unforgettable character! She not only kept me turning the pages, but I could picture everything so clearly … Leavitt handled a difficult topic exceptionally well

—ALAN Review

Offers taut, intelligent prose and the satisfaction of emotional depth .... A complex consideration of art, intellect and imagination ... [a] rewarding, witty story.

—Toronto Star

Honors for Heck Superhero

  • Junior Library Guild selection