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Totally Joe by James Howe

Totally Joe (edition 2007)

by James Howe

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49414320,689 (4.19)9
Title:Totally Joe
Authors:James Howe
Info:Atheneum Books for Young Readers (2007), Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, middle grade, gay, M

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Totally Joe by James Howe

  1. 00
    Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen (amysisson)
    amysisson: "Flipped" tells the same events from two different perspectives, with earnest and real teen POV. "Totally Joe" has only one perspective but with a creative format -- and with the other books in this series, you do get that multiple POV. Both highly recommended.… (more)

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This would be a great book for someone around middle school age. Especially someone who is questioning their orientation, or who knows someone who is. Well-written with enjoyable characters with a light & humorous tone, my rating is more reflective of me than of the book itself. If I would have been closer to the ages of the characters when I read this, I would have loved it. Reading it as an adult, I simply wasn't the right audience, but that doesn't mean I don't think it would be a terrific book for someone else.

While I understand the criticism of Joe as too stereotypical, I actually found it realistic. There are, of course, gay tweens who embody such characteristics as not being good at or having an interest in sports, being quite fond of movie stars and musicals, preferring to spend time in the kitchen with the women of the family than with the men watching television. Certainly not all gay boys are like Joe -- even other gay boys in the story were not necessarily like Joe -- but I don’t think that makes him less believable as a character. Like all characters, he represents one facet of experience that cannot encompass everything, not should he be expected to. Joe was able to come out because he was able to recognize his own feelings and emotions, something that would not have been possible had he not seen himself somehow reflected in the culture around him. (No doubt Aunt Pam directed his library reading in this regard.)

My worry with this story is that Joe has such an easy time -- his family is incredibly supportive and loving, he has a strong group of solid friends, there are adults in his life who take bullying seriously -- I hope that the story doesn’t set up false expectations for other boys in his position who might have a harder time talking to their parents about being gay. But, like with other character representations, Colin gives us an example of how life and family are not the same for everyone. This is really such a positive story that I want it to gives kids hope that circumstances are not always dire, but that will probably depend greatly on the personal situation of the reader. Joe was able to come out because he was able to recognize his own feelings and emotions, something that would not have been possible had he not seen himself somehow reflected in the culture around him. (No doubt Aunt Pam directed his library reading in this regard.)

I don’t remember the novels using the word “queer,” even though some suggest that that is perhaps the best all-inclusive word to use among teens and young readers, if one is to use a general label. It’s important to remember that the range of queer experience is so great that not everyone within that space can necessarily automatically relate to others there. Even with Joe and Colin, both gay tweens, they were different enough from each other that they sought out things they both had in common and worked toward understanding the differences between them. While they are both fairly young to be so clear about their orientation, this fits a study (Savin-Willimas) which found that people are coming out at younger and younger ages. Yet it is also noted that fluid labels are perhaps more appropriate, especially for people who are questioning and exploring. The experiences depicted in Totally Joe are in sharp contrast to the experience that previous generations had growing up and even into adult hood. Even with the character of Colin who wasn’t ready to identify as gay to his parents or classmates, I got the feeling that he would by college, or perhaps even late in high school.

( )
  MCHBurke | Jul 7, 2014 |
I love love love this book. It is absolutely amazing. Joe is a boy who is true in himself, and knows exactly who he is! He might not want everything about him shared, but deep down he is a great boy! He is assigned to write a journal about himself from A to Z., and boy you're in for a treat! He may be gay, but he does not stand for bullying! This story shows you what its like to be considered a "misfit." It is a truly amazing story and I recommend that everyone reads it!! It truly hit home for me, and I couldn't get enough! ( )
  CMJohnson | Apr 29, 2014 |
I love the way this book is written, an alphabiography. I felt like I was in the story myself. Also a favorite book this semester ( )
  EmilySansovich | Apr 25, 2014 |
Audience: 8-9th grade
This is an interesting book a young boy who is gay and how he deals with the discrimination in society. It also has an alpha biography format to it and is quite hilarious! The way Joe puts a positive spin on even the terrible things that happen to him portrays his carefree personality that ultimately helps him face all his fears. This is a great book to read in middle-high school where students need to be able to accept different view points and show tolerance and acceptance towards people who are different from them, instead of bullying them. ( )
  ShantiR | Apr 25, 2014 |
I absolutely love "Totally Joe." The book deal mainly with the issue of being a gay student and all of the struggles that those children face. The books deals with bullying a great deal as well and also with other types of common differences that kids face on a daily basis. The book can be looked down upon by certain parents, but I would recommend it to a student dealing with the same issues. ( )
  Jordanlaine | Apr 24, 2014 |
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Book description
Meet Joe Bunch, lovable misfit and celebrity wannabe from Paintbrush Falles, New York. like his longtime best friends Addie, Skeezie, and Bobby, Joe's been called names all his life. So when he's given the assignment to write his alphabiography-the story of his life from A to Z- Joe has his doubts. The whole thing could be serious ammunition for bullying if it falls into the wrong hands. But Joe discovers there's more to the assignment-and his life-than meets the eye. Especially when he gets to the letter C, which stands for Colin Briggs, the coolest guy in the seventh grade (seriously)-and Joe's secret boyfriend. By the time Joe gets to the letter Z, he's pretty much bared his soul about everything. And Joe's okay with that because he likes who he is. He's Totally Joe, and that's the best thing for him to be. here is an exuberant, funny, totally original story of one boy's coming out-and coming-of-age.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0689839588, Paperback)

"Everybody says you and Colin were kissing."

"What? That's ridiculous!"

"For heaven's sake, Joe, if you and Colin want to kiss, you have every right to."

"We did not kiss," I told her.

Addie shrugged. "Whatever."

What was it with my friends?

From the creator of The Misfits, the book that inspired NATIONAL NO NAME-CALLING WEEK, comes the story of Joe Bunch....

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:17:38 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

As a school assignment, a thirteen-year-old boy writes an alphabiography--life from A to Z--and explores issues of friendship, family, school, and the challenges of being a gay teenager.

(summary from another edition)

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