Warhead: The True Story of One Teen Who Almost Saved the World

Delacorte. Jul. 2019. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525647904.
Gr 7 Up–Henigson’s heartfelt and funny memoir captures his tumultuous teenage years during the Cold War. At 15, he survived a bike accident, experienced seizures for the first time, and was diagnosed with brain cancer. While undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, Henigson did his best to put on a brave face for his anxious mother, emotionally distant father, and best friend, Paul. In a cancer support group meeting, Henigson learned that many of the other teens had their wishes granted by the Starlight Children’s Foundation, which could grant his wish, too. After giving it much thought, he decided on a wish he hoped would make his father proud—to travel to the Soviet Union and talk peace with Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. While met with resistance, Henigson was able to make the trip alongside the Youth Ambassadors of America. His time there was life changing. Despite not being able to meet Gorbachev, the author formed friendships with both American and Soviet teens, was interviewed by Soviet media, and had an invaluable conversation with famous scientist Dr. Evgeny Velikhov. After returning to the States, Henigson faced additional struggles. He felt his parents were disinterested in learning about the trip, and his closest friend from the cancer support group passed away. The book is filled with many painful memories but still peppered with humor throughout.
VERDICT Henigson’s strength, passion, and conviction will inspire readers. A unique and informative addition to any high school or YA biography collection

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