A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{July 26, 2010}   Totally Joe by James Howe

Plot: 12 year old Joe Bunch writes an alphabiography for English class in which recounts coming out, getting a boyfriend and fighting against bullying.

Totally Joe is a companion book to the Misfits. I haven’t read the later but it seems to follow the same characters as they run for student government and try to put an end to name calling at school.  You don’t need to have read The Misfits to understand this book, everything you need to know is laid out. Joe is writing, as his teacher requested, as though to someone who doesn’t know him. The alphabiography is an interesting narrative device though aside from ordering the way events are narrated, it brings little to the story. This is just another form of the diary narrative.

The story itself is light and fun. It reminded me a little of My Most Excellent Year but with less memorable (though no less good) parents. The book isn’t laugh out loud funny as My Most Excellent Year was but it was good for the occasional chuckle. The message of the book is uplifting without being preachy. The novel starts to touch on some interesting social issues but it never goes very far, limiting itself to one line “life lessons”. That’s ok, not every book needs to delve deeply into these issues.

This is a book targeting tweens and would be best enjoyed by that age group.


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