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StorySnoops Children's Book Reviews | Totally Joe | James Howe
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Totally Joe
by James Howe
LEXILE READING LEVEL: 910L {what is this?}
PUBLISHER: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
NO. PAGES: 208
GENRE{S}: Realistic Fiction
SERIES: The Misfits
PREQUEL: The Misfits
SEQUEL: Addie on the Inside
ISBN: 0689839588
READ & REVIEWED BY: Tiffany - StorySnoop

The Story
Totally Joe—Book Review

When Joe is first given the assignment to write about himself from A to Z, an "alphabiography," he is skeptical. After he digs in and begins, however, he finds that the words flow. Joe bares his soul about friends, school issues like bullying, not being a "guy's guy," his family, and his secret boyfriend Colin. Joe finds in the end that he is more than happy to just totally be himself.
The Scoop
Totally Joe—Book Review
{spoiler alert}

This companion book to The Misfits uses a unique and fun perspective, as Totally Joe is written as an assignment, in entries from A to Z. At the end of each chapter/entry Joe must also add a life lesson. This writing exercise proves to be insightful and worthwhile. This is a coming of age as well as a coming out story. Joe is gay and has always known he was different. He played with Barbies and wore dresses as a child, and has nothing in common with, as he calls them, "guy-guys." Coming out to his family is uneventful and easy, though maybe not terribly realistic. Homosexual slurs are prevalent (f-g, f-ggot, qu-er, f-iry), and No Name-Calling Day, originated in The Misfits is referenced in this book as well. A bullying character, who at one point states, "God hates fags," gets in trouble with school administration and ends up leaving to attend another school. A gay straight alliance club is formed after initial hesitation on the part of the school, and as a result of parents talking to the powers that be. Kissing is mentioned, and a kissing rumor causes problems between two main characters. Joe is a particularly well-adjusted thirteen-year-old and the life lessons he comes up with are wise beyond his years. This one sums up the main message of this well-written story, "Being who you are isn't a choice."
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Totally Joe—Book Review

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