Heroes next door by Samuel Johnson and Hilde Hinton

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Hachette Australia, 2020. 213pp. ISBN: 9780733646362.
(Age: 13+) Recommended. Heroes next door is a collection of 40 true human stories ranging from a short three pages up to ten. The book was written by Samuel Johnson, a high profile actor, who has worked to raise money for a cause called loveyoursister.org. He was joined in the writing by his older sister Hilde. Their sister Connie died of cancer and Samuel led many public campaigns for cancer awareness and research. This book also raises money for this. Unsurprisingly many of the stories are about cancer sufferers and their indomitable spirit, plus the selfless support of people around them. For example Gail who organised the community to throw a wedding for Manda, a woman with a terminal illness. There are also people who have worked quietly for others in their community like Fahim the pharmacist. Or Alison the school principal, who stood by a student called Paige who was on a roller coaster of self-abuse. We hear about those whose work causes considerable personal trauma but carry on regardless, like Dianne the SES volunteer and Simon the firie. Matt's story is maybe more well-known since there has been a lot of publicity about how he engineered the amazing robotic prosthetic hands which are freely given to people without hands. The authors find everyday people with amazing backgrounds and people who shower others with kindness.
Quiet battler stories of terminal illness, suicide, substance abuse and domestic violence all make this very emotional and sobering stuff. I occasionally gasped at the tragedy. However some of the stories tell of how people in adversity turn around these situations. They are told in short unflowery sentences which deliver an impact. There's a lot of Aussie slang and swearing which lightens the tone. A well-chosen story may be useful in secondary schools for discussing values and ethical dilemmas. It is also the sort of book you can dip into for inspiration and remind yourself of the good others do constantly without a need for fanfare.
Jo Marshall