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Comment: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
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A Hero Ain't Nothin But a Sandwich Mass Market Paperback – February 1, 2000

4.1 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Dope. Smack. Junk. Heroin. No matter what you call it, you can't change the fact that 13-year-old Benjie is on it. Oh no ... he's not hooked, though. He could stop anytime ... really. But why is a young kid like Benjie using at all? Originally published in 1973, Alice Childress's novel remains one of the most profound explorations of an addict's world ever written. What makes this novel different is that Childress points no fingers and offers no easy answers. Her characters' moods and motivations are complex, fresh, unexpected, and courageously real. Woven into Benjie's own ramblings about his situation are the thoughts of those involved by association--his mother, stepfather, friends, the pusher, and teachers at his school. This narrative technique creates a rich, heroic portrait of the social and psychological circumstances of addiction, love, and family. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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"The characters are vibrantly real, the story makes a stunning impact". -- Chicago Tribune Book World
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Mass Market Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books (February 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0698118545
  • ISBN-13: 978-0698118546
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.4 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #388,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Childress does an excellent job of putting the perspectives of all the characters associated with Benjie or to his problem in this novel. Point of view is a defining characteristic of this novel. Within the twenty-three first person narratives, the reader hears the dialect, different knowledge levels, and thinking processes of all the character's, from the local drug pusher to Benjie's high school teachers. This made the plot a bit harder to follow at first, but had it been written any other way it would have lost a definite sense of authenticity.
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By A Customer on March 4, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Powerfully and courageously honest about the lives of the young, African-American heroin addict Benjie and those around him ... There are no easy answers in this book. I think it's a story people need to hear, whether we want to or not. I couldn't put it down; I will never forget it; I only hope I learned from it. Moving and amazing.
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By Shelby on April 29, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I thought this was written in an unusual, which is a good change. Instead of one narrator, each chapter had a different one. Some spoke more than once, and some only once. This book gave the perspective of many different people, but all about one topic: heroin. A 15 year old boy, Benjie, has a heroin problem and this shows how it affected his mother, "step-father," grandmother, teachers, friends, and even the dealers. This book deals with death, addiction, and overcoming addiction. I think it is a great read for someone in early high school.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I use this book in my Adolescent Literature course, and I am struck by how Benji's plight is still relevant 40 years later, when record numbers of young people are becoming addicted to heroin. And Childress's writing is magnificent. The story of Benji's addiction is told through multiple perspectives, and each character has his or her own unique voice. Childress's ear for dialogue is particularly noteworthy, and her characters who are not formally educated and who do not speak in standard English are just as if not more eloquent than the others. A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich is a classic example of a problem novel that all serious students of YA fiction should read.
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By MS on October 15, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Benjie is hooked on heroin and we get to see his viewpoint and those of everyone around him—family members, teachers, friends, and dealers. This is one powerful read about addiction centering on a young person spiraling out of control. I liked the shifting narrators with each chapter heading announcing who was speaking. Published in the early 1970’s, readers will get a feel for that decade and the civil rights issues of that time.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
"A Hero Ain't Nothin But a Sandwich" isn't really about "Benjy", the book's advertised protagonist. It's really about the different people in an inner-city neighborhood, and how they view life. The characters include his passive mother, his hardworking stepfather, his narcissistic grandmother, his caring, yet frustrated white teacher, his black teacher who's obsessed with Black Power, his best friend (with whom he's become estranged), the local pimp/pusher, etc.

Each of these characters speaks in a short monologue. Their talk revolves around 13-year-old Benjy, but they end up talking about life in general. Their neighborhood has crumbled, their municipal (and religious) leaders are mired in corruption, and business has stagnated. Life seems hopeless, but I find that the only one who tries to keep his head up is the stepfather. He's the smartest one in the book. He desperately wants to send his stepson to live on a farm, away from all the bad influences of the city.

The end of the book has a tirade from the stepfather that I think is a must-read for kids. A White social worker says that the boy needs some good heroes to look up to. The stepfather says "what about me, I'm supporting three people plus Uncle Sam on my paycheck, and I can't claim any of them as dependents, so why can't I be seen as the hero?"
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The novel "A Hero Ain't Nothin But A Sandwich" is a great novel.I enjoyed reading it. This novel is about a young boy name Benjie who is growing up in a gang bang niegborhood. Benjie has been introduced to alot of bad things like drugs(herion). Benjie is trying to deal with school related activites and the temptations of doing drugs. Beening the age that Benjie is, he has alot of people influencing him to do things he knows that he should not do. This novel is so interesting in many differnet ways because it tells the book from different points of views, like his mom, grandma, best friend, and other people. You get to find out their thoughts on life and on Benjie. To find out if Benjie gets hooked on drugs of does the right thing ,you should read this novel.
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A Kid's Review on December 8, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Hi im 13 years old and im from the ghetto but i loved this book this book was good and got my atendtion all my teachers were shock i go to horce mann middle school and this book relate to how i am around that and trying to make and i would become a lawyer so this is the best book i ever read and keep reading this book.
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