Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Brad's Gift

When I think of Brad Meltzer and heroes, The Justice League and Identity Crisis come to mind and I conjure up images of  SUPERHEROES like Superwoman, Hawkgirl, and Wonderwoman (in all fairness I guess I should mention Superman, Cyborg, and Batman). But Meltzer’s latest book, Heroes for My Daughter (Harper Collins, April 10, 2012, $19.95), isn’t comprised of fictional heroes—it’s cut from the real thing.

Meltzer has assembled the remarkable stories of fifty-five exceptional people. These accounts are not about individuals of great wealth or enormous power. They are not about people who are driven by political ambitions or who seek personal fame. They are stories of people with indefatigable will, perseverance, and selfless pursuit of the things that are good and right in our world. These are people with limitless inner strength and the courage to stand up for what they believe. They are the very people that Meltzer wanted his newborn daughter to emulate—individuals who embody strength, compassion, ingenuity, empathy, creativity, and perseverance

In his heartwarming introduction Meltzer tells his newborn infant girl, “I didn’t want just one thing for you. I wanted everything. If you needed strength, I wanted you to be strong. If you saw someone hurting, I wanted you to find the compassion to help. If there was a problem, big or small, that no one could solve, I wanted you to have every available skill—ingenuity, empathy, creativity, perseverance—so you could attack that problem in a way that no one else on this entire planet had ever fathomed. And that would be your greatest gift, Lila: That no one—and I mean no one—would ever be exactly you.”

Meltzer tells us why Agatha Christie changed his life. He lets us know the reason why Carol Burnett tugs her ear lobe at the end of each of her performances. He inspires us with the story of Helen Keller (did you know that she graduated Cum laude from Radcliffe and wrote twelve books?). His most poignant vignettes, however, are portraits of the women who have played the most important roles in his life—his wife, his mother, his grandmother, and Sheila Spicer, his ninth grade English teacher.

We need role models for our children. We need role models for ourselves, too. That’s the beauty of Brad Meltzer’s new book—it’s a childrens’ book for adults and an adults’ book for children. He even leaves space in the back for his readers to record the recollections of their heroes.

Meltzer said it best in Identity Crisis. “One of the things I cared most about was letting the reader feel that all of the heroes’ stories—all of them—happened in a shared universe. They’re legends in a complex, interconnected world—the tapestry of continuity that ties our own lives together.”

Thank you, Brad, for your inspirational gift. You’re my superhero.

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