Book Review: ‘Penny Cavalier’ by jonny Lupsha

What if superheroes were real?

If you have ever asked yourself that question, then you need to read Penny Cavalier.

Many of us have confined the idea of superheroes to the big screen or the pages of a comic book. It turns out that there is an underground community of Real Life Superheroes (RLSH) walking the streets in this day and age. That’s right, actual superheroes. These people may not have powers, but they have alter egos, costumes, and the fortitude to change the world.

Like myself, you may not have even been aware that this community existed. Lupsha took on the task of interviewing these different RLSH to see what they are like. His journey delving into this community is fascinating, insightful, and bittersweet.

From the cover of "Penny Cavalier".

The book starts off with a forward by Lupsha stating that to the best of his knowledge, at least 99% of the fascinating stories he heard were true. For reasons such as the safety of people he interviewed, there is still that 1% of mystery. It’s understandable that Lupsha added a forward stating this because of the incredible tales that are told in Penny Cavalier. There were times I questioned what I read simply because it was so surreal.

Penny Cavalier reveals the motivations, methods, and philosophies of different people who identify themselves as a RLSH. Some of the people he interviews are more like the kind of characters you imagine reading about in a comic book, and others have adopted and evolved the concept of being a RLSH. Some don’t even hide their real life identity and in fact share it freely! There’s variety with the different people interviewed, which I really appreciated as a reader. What’s interesting is reading the different involvement these RLSHs have with the police and their attitudes and relationships with the local authorities. Depending on how each person adopts the role of the RLSH seems to affect how they’re treated by police. Penny Cavalier gives you a peek into this fascinating subculture of RLSHs and explains how this group is able to exist in our world. I think for me what was the most interesting was when the different RLSHs gave opinions on each other, and some of them are not shy about expressing their thoughts on their peers.

The way Lupsha catalogues the interviews and his journey into the world of RLSH is smooth and personable. He does not simply type up transcripts of the interviews in a boring question and answer format, he lets the reader know his reactions so that instead of just reading interviews, you’re experiencing them the way he did. You can feel his fascination, shock, and at times trepidation and that is what really makes Penny Cavalier enjoyable. The book reveals how the idea of the RLSH has been adopted by various people and what it means for them to be a RLSH. Lupsha after interviews shares anecdotes from his life that relate to the ideas of kindness, selflessness, and being a good samaritan (which is in fact one of the names of a RLSH). This isn’t just a book of interviews, it explores the ideas and experiences of selflessness in our own lives and what makes RLSHs stand apart.

Bottom Line: Read Penny Cavalier. It explores a fascinating subculture that I was not even aware of until I started reading. Lupsha gives the content of the interviews justice by his smooth and personable writing style and makes you wish that more RLSHs had been willing to be interviewed so that you could read more.

Buy Penny Cavalier HERE.

Visit jonny Lupsha’s blog HERE.


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