Benjie can stop using heroin anytime he wants to. He just doesn't want to yet. Why would he want to give up something that makes him fell so good, so relaxed, so tuned out? As Benjie sees it, there's nothing much to tune in for. School is a waste of time, and home life isn't much better. All Benjie wants is for someone to believe in him, for someone to believe that he's more than a thirteen-year-old junkie. But Benjie can't kick heroin for his mother or for his teachers. He needs to do it for himself.
Benjie is thirteen years old. He is poor, he is black, and he is hooked on heroin. Everybody wants him to get clean, but Benjie isn't sure he wants to kick his habit. The drugs make him feel calm. They make him feel better about his mom spending so much time with her boyfriend. They make him feel less afraid of living in a dangerous neighborhood. Without drugs, what will he have left? Told from the interchanging perspectives of Benjie's mother, her boyfriend, Benjie's teachers, friends, grandmother, and others — and from Benjie's own point of view — A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich takes the reader from Benjie's first time experimentation with drugs, through his addiction, and into his attempts at recovery. The characters are so perfectly conceived and the dialogue so flawlessly real you will feel as though you know Benjie and those who occupy his world.
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