It is important to note that heroism is not just about acting heroically in a dramatic situation, such as the gun shooting and the school violence that acts as the climax of this novel. Although heroism is certainly something that shows itself in such dramatic moments, and this is definitely true for the characters of this book, it is also true to say that heroism is shown by the characters in the book in the day-to-day lives they lead with the challenges that they face. Perhaps it is more true to say that greater emphasis is placed on this kind of heroism and the way that Draper's characters triumph over the odds that threaten to dominate them. For example, consider the situation that Arielle has to face with her controlling step father and how she has to manage and cope with that:
She gazed at the gleaming stainless-steel refrigerator and stove, the sleek, built-in dishwasher, the marble counters, and the shiny copper pots and pans hanging from hooks in the ceiling, but she felt no pride. Her stapfather made it clear that all of that, as well as the lush white carpets and the original oil paintings on the wall, and she and her mom--belonged to him.
She demonstrates considerable heroism in the way that she manages this situation and deals with her stepfather and the supposed control he feels that he has over Arielle and her mother. In the same way, Kofi is another character who demonstrates heroism in the way he confronts both his addition to pain killers but also the irresponsibility of his parents. Draper presents the reader with very real and very challenging situations that her teens have to live with on a day-by-day basis, and the heroism that they display in coping with such complex situations makes it clear that heroism is not just about dramatic moments, but it definitely includes the daily grind of surviving deeply unpleasant and complex situations that her characters face.