The Unlikely Hero of 13B by Teresa Toten tells the tale of Adam Spencer Ross who falls for Robyn Plummer. Adam immediately falls for Robyn and plans to marry her. Over the course of the story, he encounters many normal obstacles: a rival, age differences (he’s about 14/15 and she’s 16), and he feels he isn’t tall or manly enough for her (which leads to a hilarious scene in a coffee shop). He also pretends that his route home matches hers in order to walk with her. The twist to the story comes from the fact Adam isn’t “normal.” He has mental health issues like OCD.
Throughout the story Adam wants to rescue Robyn and be her superhero, but feels he comes up short because of his problems.
It was interesting to see the story through the perspective of the one with the metal illness. You get to see that Adam has a lot of the same feelings and fears that “normal” people have—they’re just cranked up to eleven.
I did have a problem with the story when Adam finds out that Robyn is getting better. She no longer needs to attend the support group meetings, which is where he met her. He then learns that her coming to the meetings and hanging out with him is harming her mental health. Adam freaks out about hurting her and says he’ll let her go, but then in the next chapter he’s still with her. It was kind of confusing to have this big, emotional moment with him in tears over hurting the one he loves only to have him continue to do so a page later.
But, you also get scenes like Wolverine talking about his heart problems and random illnesses or Green Lantern worrying about killing or hurting someone. At the beginning of the story, also known as the first meeting of Adam’s support group, the doctor in charge, Chuck, has everyone pick new identities to help them feel more comfortable; pretty much everyone chooses a superhero name. So, you have Iron Man worrying about his medicine dosage or Wonder Woman talking about being afraid of tight spaces.
I actually had some trouble finding negatives about the story. The flow and writing was well done. The characters felt real. The plot constantly moved forward, though it was a little cliché—boy meets girl, boy tries to win girl—but having main characters with mental illness brought uniqueness. The ending also seemed real. It was a happy-ish ending, but not an “everything is wonderful” ending. Adam isn’t suddenly cured of his mental illness, but he starts being able to cope with it. There are some pretty bittersweet moments, but you’ll have to read the book to find out about those. 4.8/5
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