High school freshman Lily pours her heart out in letters to her hero, dead movie star John Wayne, in which she tells him about the death of her beloved stepfather, her mother's abusive boyfriends, her fears that her father is gay, getting the lead in the high school play, and her burgeoning romance with a classmate who reminds her of Mr. Wayne. Nan says: I read this book over the two days of my once-every-fifteen-years garage sale. Listening to Liliana's voice (the "hero" in Girl, Hero) and greeting and meeting with my customers, I made a new friend and read a remarkable story. Lily's insights and youthful wisdom enrich this good book. As she writes to John Wayne -- an unusual hero and imaginary friend -- she narrates her life in her own voice.
"We ride by a horse farm. Horses stand waiting for something to happen. I want to jump on and ride off into the sunset, but it's only noon."
"I know what that's like, not wanting to tell someone what's wrong, because if you tell them it isn't a relief. It just makes it more real, or maybe if you tell them they'll pity you, and when you add someone's pity onto your own sadness it's like all the strings inside of you become untuned, stretched too tight, and you can feel them ready to snap apart if anyone says anything, or if you even move..."