What does it take to turn a bully into a hero? Empathy and the power of forgiveness take center stage in this poignant novel by the award-winning author of The Boy at the Back of the Class.
Getting in trouble is what Hector does best. He knows that not much is expected of him. In fact, he gets some of his most brilliant prank ideas while sitting in detention. But how far is too far? When Hector plays a prank on a homeless man and is seen and shamed by a schoolmate, he reaches a turning point. He wants to be viewed differently and decides to do something that will change his fate for the better. But will anyone take him seriously?
This moving story told with humor and heart presents readers with some recognizable characters, like a bully and a teacher’s pet, and introduces them to some they may not be so familiar with— like those who are homeless, who live on the street, and whose stories are equally meaningful and important. Readers will feel motivated to see the best in others and hopeful that bad things can be overcome with effort.
When 10-year-old bully Hector witnesses the theft of an artifact by London thieves who have been implicating unhoused people in their crimes, he publicly accuses Thomas an unhoused man whose belongings Hector once pushed into a lake of perpetrating the crime. When he realizes he's made a mistake, Hector connects with classmate and teacher's pet Mei-Li as well as Thomas's best friend, and learns to cooperate with others to break a code and discover the culprit. Though Hector's actions are at first entirely self-serving, his transition into a kinder and more aware person is welcome, with Ra f (The Star Outside My Window) providing credible opportunities for the protagonist's growth, including time spent volunteering in a soup kitchen and conversations with members of the unhoused community he serves. A focus on Hector's increasing understanding of the consequences of his actions and readers' growing enlightenment of the experiences that contribute to his frequently cruel behavior showcase the importance of compassion and forgiveness. Character ethnicity and race are unspecified throughout. Back matter includes a discussion of bullying and housing insecurity, and an author's note. Ages 10 up. Agent: Silvia Molteni, PFD (U.K.).