How many heroes?

There’s very few books that I pick up from the library while browsing that are really, really good. Anna Seidl’s No Heroes is a perfect example of a book that I picked up on a whim, and ended up totally loving. To summaries it quickly, the book focuses on our main character, Miriam, and her deteriorating relationships with her friends and family as they begin to realize that it was only because of them that a gunman opened fire at their school. The gunman is a student named Mathias Staudt, a boy who has been relentlessly bullied all throughout school. It can be inferred that the tipping point for him was getting brutally rejected by Miriam herself. Now, nothing justifies bringing a gun to school, but Miriam’s friends end up asking the question: was it our fault? To answer the question in the words of {WORD} Miriam herself: “I mustn’t think about it. Joanne is totally off her head. We’re not to blame. I didn’t press the trigger.” (page 83) It’s sad to know that she is not able to see the impact her actions have had on Mathias.

This idea of ‘No heroes’  has Miriam questioning why she did not do anything to save her boyfriend (Toby) from Mathias, an interesting parallel to why Mariam did nothing to stop her friends from bullying Mathias. The idea that everybody believes that they would be the ones to step up and face a problem while everybody else turns and runs. The truth is, everybody is the one who turns and runs, assuming the next person over will take care of it. To put it bluntly –  Mariam says this while abandoning her classmate to the gunman: “Yes, we just leave Phillip behind. And yes, I know the consequences.  I know this could mean death for him. Heartless as it may seem – if I stayed, I’d be writing my own death sentence. Everyone thinks of themselves first here. There are no heroes. Heroes are an invention of the film industry” (page 6)

I see so many Miriams, though in less extreme circumstances, in the children I worked with during summer camp. These children believe they’re invincible. They have some sort of preteen qualification that is clearly grounds for judging the worth of someone. We were once having a conversation about the scariest things that had ever happened to us. One young girl made fun of another young boy’s claim that he was scared of spiders. A simple and understandable fear. When I spoke to the girl and asked her to be a little bit more considerate about his fears, because she is probably scared of something that is normal to others, she responded with “Well, I’m not scared of anything! I played through the entire game without even getting scared!” (she had been talking about Five Nights at Freddy’s earlier, the point and click jump scare game)

Is that at all grounds to call yourself fearless? I was actually ready to laugh. Both that girl and Miriam feel like they are on top of the world due to something that might actually be meaningless. For Miriam, it was her relationship with Toby that granted her a feeling of invincibility, and for this girl, it was her ability to not get scared at a horror game. People don’t recognize their weaknesses until they are face to face with them. All I can do is hope that these children don’t learn the hard way.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

4 thoughts on “How many heroes?

  1. Mr. Qayyum,

    This is the first piece of writing of yours that I have read in a while, but is it strange that I can almost hear your voice while reading this?

    In this piece you demonstrate great syntax, and sentence structure, almost as if you were writing a persuasive essay. You call upon quotes from the action book, which strengthen the message you are trying to convey. I enjoyed the stylistic choice of using italics to provide emphasis on certain words. This almost forces readers to narrate with expression, allowing for your voice as the author to come through.

    To improve, I would suggest looking over for the one spelling error I found, where it should be “summarize” and not “summaries.” Other than that, my only personal quarrel with this piece is how it almost feels cut short, as if something more is needed to close off the message that you are trying to convey.

    This is a outstanding blog post, and demonstrates your proficiency not only as a Grade 12 AP ELA student, but also as a speaker and an author. Keep up the great work!


    1. Mr Goldsmith –

      It is always relieving to know that people are able to hear my voice in the work that I do. I find that my writing is at its best when I am able to make people read as though I was speaking to them.

      I hugely appreciate your feedback on this piece – my overall idea was to, if not persuade, plant an idea in the mind of my reader. Something that would keep them thinking and reflecting on their actions and choices. This style of writing feels the most natural to me, personal and easy to relate to. That is probably why any edits I make to a Wikipedia-esque website have to be read over multiple times to make sure it is impersonal writing. (I’ve had to rewrite entire sections thanks to this!)

      As far as the length of my writing, that was something that I was concerned about as well. When I finished my first draft of this post, I felt like the examples I had provided were relevant, but not meaningful to the point of this post. I have saved those paragraphs for future writings, hopefully of greater length!

      I am left deeply humbled by you and your words. Thank you for this comment.

  2. Dearest Areeb,

    Thank you for this wonderful piece. I found myself nodding and doing that “hmm” things that ~intellectuals~ do whilst listing – you know the one. It felt as if your blog post was a wonderful conversation and I too was able to hear your voice while reading it, just like Lucas. To steal a few more points from Lucas, this was an amazingly constructed piece where the evidence from the book and your anecdotes allowed for seamless transitions which made it feel a lot like a persuasive piece. Your cleverness with this allowed the comparisons you were making easily understandable for all audiences even those who, like me, had no prior knowledge of the book. Further, on a more personal level, I really loved getting to hear a bit about your summer through this piece! It was so wonderful getting to see your passion about the kids you met this summer during camp and I always wanted to approach you on that because I could relate – regrettably I never mustered up the courage to strike up a conversation with you on it (diddly darn).

    As far as improvements I had great difficulty finding anything to improve upon as I was too busy enjoying the piece. However, upon further reflection I noticed that there was a GUMP error as a period was missing at the end of this sentence: ” To put it bluntly – Mariam says this while abandoning her classmate to the gunman: “Yes, we just leave Phillip behind. And yes, I know the consequences. I know this could mean death for him. Heartless as it may seem – if I stayed, I’d be writing my own death sentence. Everyone thinks of themselves first here. There are no heroes. Heroes are an invention of the film industry” (page 6).” I realize how extremely nit picky that is, and I apologize, I simply could not think of anything else – perhaps that is a compliment!

    Once again, a wonderful blog Areeb!! Thank you for your wisdom and insight.


    1. Ibukun –

      I have found myself growing increasingly more open with my use of “hmm” things as the year progresses, and you are certainly a big reason for that! I really appreciate this comment of yours!

      As someone who does not know you very well on a personal level, I am so glad that I was able to relate to you with my writing, in the form of a conversation that I’m sure would be equally entertaining as it would be enlightening for both of us.

      It is always an honor to have my GUMPS picked on as a last resort! Reading over this piece myself, it is apparent that I need to give my blog posts more time between writing and publishing. There is this magical thing called editing that I really need to spend more than just an hour on.

      Thank you again for your comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *