HEROES FOR MY DAUGHTER by Brad Meltzer is a companion volume to the much-heralded HEROES FOR MY SON. The formats of the two books are the same: each entry is one to two pages in length, written with a tween or young adult in mind, and devoted to a different person whose actions and/or life are inspirational. The individuals highlighted are contemporary, historical, famous, footnotes, or deeply personal to Meltzer and his family. The reader may not necessarily agree with the inclusion of everyone on the list, but the majority will strike chords with their acts of decency, bravery and/or integrity.
"Perhaps the book’s greatest strength is that, title notwithstanding, you could easily give it to your sons as well. There is much to learn, digest and remember here.... HEROES FOR MY DAUGHTER and its companion volume are keepers to be read again and again to successive generations."
The book need not be read from first page to last; it lends itself to being picked up and opened at random, or skimmed with purpose. So if you do not know who Sheila Spicer is, for example, you can turn immediately to her entry and determine the reason for inclusion. Do so; the photograph is worth the price of admission alone, but don’t skip her story, which illustrates that one person with a simple action and a bit of effort can make a difference in someone’s life.
Winston Churchill is featured, and deservedly so, in the same volume as Tina Turner. They are each included for markedly different reasons, but their common element is that neither gave up. Some of the people here earned their place for a simple but difficult act of decency or fairness. I knew of Branch Rickey before reading HEROES FOR MY DAUGHTER, but was not aware of his story when he was the head coach of the Ohio Wesleyan baseball team. I hadn’t heard of two young women named Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace, who have their own entry and their own brief but memorable story in these pages as well. Initially I balked at the inclusion of The Three Stooges, but soon I learned that they, as much as anyone, deserved their own entry. Read the book to find out why.
Included are trailblazers such as Sally Ride, Amelia Earhart and Jane Goodall; those who made the ultimate sacrifice, such as the Heroes of United Flight 93; and those who displayed courage of a different but equally strong measure, such as Rosa Parks and Golda Meir. And to start my own daughter reading, I left the book opened to the entry discussing Ella Fitzgerald. Good luck with that singing career, Annalisa.
Perhaps the book’s greatest strength is that, title notwithstanding, you could easily give it to your sons as well. There is much to learn, digest and remember here. Regardless of whether or not you are a fan of Meltzer’s thrillers or graphic novels, HEROES FOR MY DAUGHTER and its companion volume are keepers to be read again and again to successive generations.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on April 13, 2012