Tag Archives: Daniel Hernandez Jr.

Book review: Daniel Hernandez’s “They Call Me a Hero: A Memoir of My Youth”

TheyCallMeAHeroDaniel Hernandez Jr. makes an outstanding role model for young Hispanics, LGBT youth and all youth in general – even though he doesn’t want to be.

His memoir is called They Call Me a Hero: A Memoir of My Youth (Simon & Schuster) because of the response he received for his actions at a 2011 event in which a gunman began shooting at U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others at a public event in Tucson, Ariz.

Six people died and Giffords was shot in the head. Giffords was saved thanks to the help of Hernandez, a 21-year-old intern at her office, who drew on his first aid studies he learned in high school to help control her bleeding.

Hernandez was besieged with interviews and awards. He later was lauded at the 2011 State of the Union address and threw the ceremonial first pitch at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game later that year.

But Hernandez thought he would have done what anyone else would have done.

“I didn’t expect to be a poster boy for all the groups I happen to represent – Hispanics and people in the LGBT community. I never imagined that I would become a role model; this concept seemed foreign to me, because I was so used to not getting any attention. … As I told a reporter, whether I’d acted as I had during the shooting because I’m Latino or I’m gay or that I happened to be there on January 8 didn’t really matter. I’m not a model Latino or a model member of the LGBT community. The best way I knew to be a role model was by focusing on being the best Daniel Hernandez I could be.”

The book, co-authored by Susan Goldman Rubin, is a quick read and the first part of the book, which describes the shooting and aftermath, is riveting. The book, written in a conversational tone, then delves into Hernandez’s childhood and how he became politically active.

But keep in mind that the book was written for middle school students and older. I had to remind myself of this when the text seemed too simple or there was more telling than showing. The book could have used more anecdotes to tell the story better.

I also felt the book didn’t say enough about Hernandez’s life as a gay man. Hernandez also doesn’t mention Arizona’s anti-immigrant policies and ban on ethnic studies – but, again, this is a book for teenagers.

Still, this book could inspire youth to become more active their community. Hernandez’s work ethic is relentless and his passion of community service is tremendous. He drafted and helped pass a bill that gave college students time off from class to vote, managed an election for an Arizona state representative and was appointed to serve to the City of Tucson commission on LGBT issues – all before he could drink alcohol legally.

And if a young person isn’t inspired to volunteer for their community, this book could help them take pride in just being themselves. As Hernandez says:

“I was always different from most kids, and I was okay with it. I wasn’t very concerned with how others perceived me. I just wanted to be myself.”

Daniel HernandezMore about Daniel Hernandez:

Hernandez, who graduated from the University of Arizona in 2012, was elected to serve on the Sunnyside School Board. He also serves as a motivational speaker.

Source: I purchased this book through Amazon.com.

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Filed under 2013 Books, Book Reviews, Non-Fiction, Young Adult Books

In the news: March roars with new books by Cepeda, Espinoza, Brown, Engle and Medina

March is coming in like a lion, with lots of new releases:

TheyCallMeAHeroAlready out: Daniel Hernandez Jr. is known as the intern who helped save former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s life when she was shot at a public event in 2011. His book, They Call Me A Hero: A Memoir of My Youth, focuses on his growing up gay and Hispanic. He talked about the book on CNN and to Publishers Weekly.

TitoPuenteMamboKingMarch 5: Tito Puente Mambo King/Tito Puente, Rey del Mambo, written by Monica Brown and illustrated by Rafael López, introduces the musician to children. They talked about the book here. In Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina, journalist Raquel Cepeda investigates her Dominican family’s ancestry.

Diego LeonMarch 19: In Alex Espinoza’s The Five Acts of Diego León: A Novel, a Mexican peasant goes to Hollywood to pursue a career in the movies. The life of poet Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, who fought against slavery in Cuba as a teenager, is depicted in the children’s book The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist by Margarita Engle.

YaquiDelgadoMarch 26: In Meg Medina’s young adult novel, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, a teenager finds out she is being bullied by someone she doesn’t even know.

HotelJuarezMarch 31: Arte Publico is publishing several books:  Hotel Juarez: Stories, Room and Loops by Daniel Chacon, Desperado: A Mile High Noir by Manuel Ramos and Our Lost Border: Essays on Life Amid the Narco-Violence edited by Sergio Troncoso and Sarah Cortez.

Awards:

Guadalupe Garcia McCall was nominated for the Nebula Award’s Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy – given by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America –for her novel Summer of the Mariposas.

Rigoberto González received the Barnes and Noble Writers for Writers Award for his work toward his peers.

Book Festivals:

• The Tucson Festival of Books takes place March 9-10 and will feature Diana Gabaldon, Guadalupe García McCall, Reyna Grande, Daniel Hernandez, Juan Felipe Herrera, Lizz Huerta, Ruben Martinez, Matt Mendez, Santino J. Rivera, Gloria Velasquez and Luis Alberto Urrea.

Other news:

The movie version of Bless Me Ultima is out in theaters. Author Rudolfo Anaya talked to NBC Latino about seeing his book hit the silver screen. Here’s a great review from noted film critic Roger Ebert.

Benjamin Alire Sáenz, who recently won three awards from the American Library Association Youth Media Awards for his 2012 book Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, talked to the School Library Journal.

• A memoir from singer Jenni Rivera, who died in a plane crash last year, is expected to be released in July, according to the Associated Press.

• The Omaha World-Herald profiled Joy Castro, author of Hell or High Water.

• Here’s an interesting New York Times article about Cuban-American playwright María Irene Fornés, the Obie-award winning author of 42 plays, who has Alzheimer’s disease and whose friends are campaigning to move her to New York City so they can visit her.

• The remains of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda will be exhumed to determine if he died of cancer or was poisoned by followers of dictator Augusto Pinochet, according to the BBC.

• NPR had a great story on the Oscar-nominated film, No, which covers the advertising campaign to vote out Pinochet. The movie, starring Gabriel Garcia Bernal, is based on a play by Antonio Skarmeta, author of Il Postino.

• Can’t get enough of Richard Blanco, the Cuban-American poet who read his poem, “One Today,” at President Obama’s inauguration? Here’s a story from NPR.

• PBS’ Need to Know presented a report on Arizona’s ban on ethnic studies.

Denise Chavez, author of Loving Pedro Infante, is using Kickstarter to raise money for an anthology on border literature and artwork.

• The Makers website profiled Sandra Cisneros.

• Fox News Latino reported on the rise of Latino comic book characters.

• Mexican-American artists Tony Preciado and Rhode Montijo have created a book, Super Grammar, to teach students grammar, according to NBC Latino.

Junot Díaz is scheduled to appear on The Colbert Report March 25.

Also this month:

• Three Nobel Prize winners – Gabriel Gárcia Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa and the late Octavio Paz – celebrate birthdays in March.

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