Superhero Club by Derek Thompson

Superhero Club by Derek Thompson
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (35 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

You only find out you’re a butterfly if you spread your wings.

Twelve year-old Jo has never fit in at school, what with being overweight and over-sensitive. Since Dad moved out, Mom forgets who’s who in the whole mother-daughter relationship. Jo has one ambition in life: to be normal. Not gifted, or gorgeous, or even particularly popular. Just normal.

When Jo’s counselor offers her a lifeline, there’s a bunch of other misfits sharing the rope. Group sessions could help them to help each other, but Chris doesn’t like speaking and Alistair’s a self-confessed geek. Like Stevie, the joker, says, “Oh yeah, right bunch of bloody superheroes we are!”

Sometimes the most heroic thing is to trust a group of strangers, who also have a lot at stake. Jo may find the unlikeliest of friends, and a way to transform her life from the inside. The Superhero Club could give her all that in the blink of an eye. Well, maybe a double-blink!

Jo feels like the school counselor, Kirsty, is the only person she can talk to. So when their twelve provided sessions runs out, Jo feel a little like the world is ending. When Kirsty suggests Jo join in a group session on Saturdays at the local Community Center, Jo isn’t sure, but is willing to give it a try. She meets with four other kids from her school and together they can talk about anything and everything, and especially help each other with their problems. They become the Superhero Club.

This is a wonderful tale of a twelve year old learning how to overcome issues such as bullying, her parents’ divorce and her own struggles to grow up. I found it to be warm, inspiring and full of self-confidence boosters for pre-teens. Jo (and her mother) struggle with weight issues and teasing in particular, but deeper problems are also more carefully dealt with and discussed – things like “fake” or fair weather friends, learning to rely on yourself and not be needy, anger management issues and how to balance the desire to grow up but still retain the imagination and joy of being a twelve year old.

I loved how the kids came together, and how by expressing themselves as Superheroes and having special powers they could build themselves and each other up by focusing on their strengths. The kids really become good friends in a realistic fashion, ending up fully supporting each other and sharing their secrets, dreams and experiences. They learn that together they’re far stronger and the fact they’re not alone after all helps them all come to terms with their concerns. I found this to be a warm, wonderfully written story full of positive messages for pre-teens and one that left me with a great, optimistic feeling.

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