book review: Joseph

book review:  Joseph 9781416917526

author: Shelia P. Moses

Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing (October 2008)

main character: Joseph Flood

This is Joseph’s story. He owns it and he tells it in a clear and fairly reliable manner.  Joseph is a young high school student who is surviving life with his single mother. He is a very astute young man, sharing insights into his both his school and family life. He is well aware that his mother is an addict. He knows she is the only one who can save herself while she drags him down. Yet he does not want to leave her. He is so insightful, that it is easy to forget he is a child. Joseph’s father does all he can to support his son, but he is away fighting in Iraq. During most of the book, Joseph and his mother are living in a homeless shelter. Joseph attends school and attempts to maintain a façade of normalcy.

I wanted educators to read this book, as Joseph seems to be talking to them when he spells out how teachers and schools fail him. I wondered for whom this book was written? Will it give hope to young people whose lives seem hopeless because of parental shortcomings? Throughout the book, the reader maintains confidence that Joseph will overcome his surroundings, we just want someone to help him!

Joseph gives an insider’s view into lives that too many children have to live.  The language of the book is void of any slang, vernacular or even contractions thus bringing a sense of dignity to the characters. I felt the complete words slowing me down, making me pay attention to Joseph. It also makes the story universal. There are few if any stereotypes in the book, with Joseph being an academically successful student who plays tennis, like his dad. His aunt is an attorney, and his uncle an airplane pilot.  Any child living with a parent with any type of addiction problem could face the same daily fight to survive that Joseph so eloquently tells us about.

themes: reliance;  codependency; family; overcoming obstacles