The Girl in question is a high school freshman named Liliana. Lili's not looking for someone to save her, but rather someone to listen to her. Aside from her cat, Muffin, she really doesn't have anyone. Her parents aren't together. She only sees her day on Sundays (and that's about all she can deal with) and her mom, who hasn't had the best romantic track record, is now dating a guy who's pretty creepy. Meanwhile, her older sister, Jessica, in also in a bad relationship, and her best friend, Nicole, isn't so nice anymore.
Remember Leigh, the boy who wrote letters to his favorite author in Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary? If you like epistolary novels (stories told through letters) like that, then you'll like Girl, Hero. Rather than sharing her thoughts and feelings with someone she knows, Lili writes letters to John Wayne. She thinks the world of Mr. Wayne. She watches his movies over and over and wishes that he were her father.
As a fellow actor, I respected John Wayne's body of work and his lengthy career, but I had never sat down and watched one of his films. You see, I'm not really a fan of westerns. Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and things of that nature, I'll watch, but not so much the shoot-'em-ups or saloon brawls. After reading Girl, Hero, I watched the movie True Grit - just for you, Carrie!
With the help of some new friends, Lili summons up the nerve to audition for the school musical. Though I'm not particularly a fan of South Pacific, I'm always happy to read stories which feature productions(1), and I cheered Lili on as she found her voice and her footing.
Throughout the book, Carrie Jones does a great job of making Lili really sound like a freshman. Not overly naïve and never striving to be sophisticated, Liliana is simply a girl in her early teens trying to quietly deal with everything and everyone around her.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Each of us has the potential to be a hero, even as we're looking for someone else to save us. I truly believe that you can be your own hero, and I'm glad that Lili learned this, too.
My review of Girl, Hero at SparkLife
My reviews of Tips on Having a Gay (Ex) Boyfriend and Love (and Other Uses for Duct Tape) by Carrie Jones
My interview with Carrie Jones
(1) Want to read more stories with productions, practices, and performances? Check out my related booklists, But I Don't Want To Be Famous! and But I DO Want to Be Famous!