The superhero in all of us: A review of All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman


“Each one of these superheroes is special yet common, gifted yet clumsy, triumphant yet sad, simultaneously extraordinary and common. Just like you and just like me.”  
— Andrew Kaufman, All My Friends Are Superheroes
I didn’t know of Andrew Kaufman’s celebrated book All My Friends are Super Heroes until I started working in publishing and heard about the publication of its tenth anniversary edition by Coach House Books. The book certainly doesn’t align with the usual titles on my to-read list, but it has now become a welcomed addition to what I have read.Kaufman’s has a varied, and now expanded, list of superheroes that he introduces throughout the book. For example, there’s The Stress Bunny, who has the miraculous cure for everyone else’s stress by absorbing it all into herself. Or The Copycat, who can mimic anyone’s style to the point that the original subject feels like a less successful copy of herself.The story focuses on the relationship between Tom and The Perfectionist (her power is she can quickly organize anything at any given time). Tom, unlike everyone he knows, is not a superhero, but he is perfect for and perfectly in love with The Perfectionist. However, their love goes array on the day of their wedding when Hypno, The Perfectionist’s ex-boyfriend, hypnotizes her to think that Tom has disappeared. After not being able to see Tom for six months straight, The Perfectionist is convinced Tom has abandoned her for good and she must somehow move on with her life. In order to do so, The Perfectionist boards a plane destined for Vancouver. She is completely unaware that Tom, having booked the same flight for himself, is sitting next to her. Now, Tom has only hours to make himself visible to The Perfectionist before he loses her forever.

Essentially, Kaufman’s novella is a love story, but it is also chock full of quirky characters from various spectrums of the human personality. His humorous superhero sections regale us with how some of Toronto’s not-so-special superheroes came to be who they are and what their powers are, which happen to be unexpectedly ordinary. Surprisingly, many of them will remind us either of ourselves or of someone we know.

While I felt Kaufman’s main characters may have deserved more attention to fill them out, there are the entertaining comic book-like illustrations that help propel the action forward, giving Tom and others a face to identify with.

Over all, All My Friends Are Superheroes is a breezy, light-hearted read, and I found myself spontaneously smiling at its simple, yet endearing, presentation of everyday love and life. If you are looking for a fun, quick-read then you should definitely consider this book as an option. The superhero image will be forever changed — in a good way.

4 out of 5 book thumbs up
All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman, published in Canada by Coach House Books, © 2013
Available at Coach House Books, Amazon, Indigo, and independent bookstores everywhere.