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Comment: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
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Totally Joe (The Misfits) Paperback – April 24, 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews
Book 2 of 4 in the Misfits Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-8–Joe's teacher asks his seventh-grade class to write an alphabiography throughout the year, presenting themselves and their lives in entries from A to Z. Joe's essays begin and end with friends, from Addie, a long-time pal and confidant, to Zachary, a new student who, like Joe, has a unique approach to life. Throughout, Joe demonstrates that he truly is a one-of-a-kind kid, mostly comfortable with himself but still struggling with common adolescent issues. It's difficult for him to relate to his athletic brother, and he misses his much-loved Aunt Pam, who moves to New York City. He also comes to grips with his sexuality, questioning gender expectations and traditional roles as he realizes he is gay. Because he is different, he is tormented by Kevin, who calls him a girl and faggot and falsely accuses him of kissing his friend Colin (a jock not yet ready to come out). Joe's narration always feels honest if not entirely credible. He and his family accept his emerging sexuality rather easily. While a range of responses is depicted, the characters seem to come around too quickly. For example, when the principal is informed of Kevin's actions, he, too, handles the situation expeditiously, and the troublemaker conveniently transfers to another school. Though idealized and contrived, the approach is novel and the conclusion optimistic.–Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at Washington DC Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Gr. 6-9. Joe, one of the characters in The Misfits (2001), has his say, in a voice uniquely his own. Twelve-year-old Joe knows he is gay. He played with Barbies as a young child, prefers cooking to sports, and has a crush on a male classmate. Written in the form of an assignment--an "alphabiography"--the story takes readers through the school year, one letter at a time: G is for the Gang of Five, Joe's misfit friends, who are utterly loyal when he falls for Colin. But Colin is less secure about his sexuality than Joe is, and when the rumor goes around that the boys have been seen kissing, he quashes the relationship. Joe survives the crush, and the book has an upbeat ending. ?Actually, despite a few worries, the whole book is cheerful and optimistic. Joe's family is supportive, and the kids from the nasty (Christian) family that wants to stop the Gay-Straight Alliance are removed to a different school. In other words, there's nothing terribly realistic about the scenario; in many ways, the book is reminiscent of David Levithan's Boy Meets Boy (2003), which was for a slightly older audience. Obviously, the novel will be problematic for some--not only because of the gay theme and Joe's age but also the stereotypic portrayal of the bullying Christian family. Joe himself often comes off as a cross between Niles Crane and Harvey Fierstein. But he also reacts like a kid, and readers in his situation will wish for the love and support he receives from friends and family, as well as the happy life he so clearly envisions. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Misfits
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (April 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689839588
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689839580
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sarah Stumpf on April 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Totally Joe by James Howe follows the life of the 12-going-on-13 year old narrator Joe Bunch, and the situations within his life in the form of an alphabiography assigned by his English teacher Mr. Daly. Each chapter begins with and is structured around a letter, and each ends with a "life lesson" that Joe has learned along the way. However the book is remarkable not just for its unique and creative format, but for breaking new ground with Joe as a 12 year old gay kid. Joe is not a character questioning his sexuality; he firmly knows he is gay. However he has to navigate this, along with issues of gender, sexism, masculinity, femininity, double standards, and oppression in his middle school setting. Howe manages to deal with complex issues normally reserved for older YA or adult literature such as same-sex dating (in particular, dating someone who is closeted), GSAs, and coming out to family at this young age without ever loosing cultural authenticity. The book offers numerous insights on teenage popularity and the cutthroat war zone mentality that accompanies it, and is written in extremely contemporary language that makes the protagonist (Joe) believable and real.

The book is extremely diverse, and includes various individuals that challenge social norms, like Addie's vegetarian parents or Brian's widowed father or Skeezie's single mother. It also shows individuals like Aunt Pam who is implied to be a victim of some form of domestic abuse. The book doesn't wrap itself up in preachy diatribes on these topics, but instead weaves these elements into the average daily life of Joe Bunch.

Some critics have said that Joe's liberal family is too much of a fantasy, and to some extent that may be true.
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Format: Hardcover
In Totally Joe, we are presented with the main character Joe (sometimes JoDan) Bunch's alphabiography--the story of his life from A to Z, complete with chapters that end with a Life Lesson to share with others. I must say, I like the idea of this writing assignment--it's simple enough, and structured and methodical in ways that satisfyingly feed my anal retentiveness. It brings an order to the book, alphabetical, sometime chronological, and always moving along.

At the heart of this alphabiography assignment is the task to be self-reflexive. (Now what self-respecting feminist isn't into being self-reflexive?) However, despite Totally Joe being presented as a confidential, journal-type text strictly between Joe and his teacher, Mr. Daly, we know as readers that we are to match Joe's self-reflexivity with our own. (Isn't all reading about this?)

In any case, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and have been quite disappointed to see reviews from School Library Journal and Booklist that critique it for its idealism and treats its optimism as a liability instead of an asset.

What ever happened to hope? to dreams? (Or, for to letting fiction be fiction?)

I believe in the power of imagination to bring about change. Utopia should not be a dirty six letter word.

Is everything in Totally Joe completely believable? Hardly. But if it were, wouldn't that be something?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was not James Howe's life; but it may be the life he wishes he had. Totally Joe is about a boy with an incredibly accepting group of friends, a family that loves him unconditionally, and an aunt who help him come out in his own good time.

The book is a delight; a blast, a visit to a slightly different planet where being queer isn't easy, but it isn't dangerous and the hardest part is figuring out how to find your way -- pretty much like any other adolescent.

Well written as usual, and a nice sequel to the Misfits, but so far from reality (at least the reality most of us grew up with) that it can almost be filed under Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Still, I very much liked it, and recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the Misfits.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Twelve-year-old Joe Bunch is usually pretty comfortable being himself. He wears brightly colored clothing, streaks his hair and has his artist aunt paint teeny designs on his pinky fingernail.

But now that Joe's developed a crush on his classmate Colin, things are a bit different. For one thing, Colin is a little more hesitant about letting the other kids know he's gay. And for another, Joe's already getting harassed enough by school bully Kevin. Why add ammunition?

Yet at the same time, Joe sees his straight friends starting to pair up. Nobody thinks twice about seeing a boy and girl holding hands or kissing in the hallways, and it makes Joe sad. Why can't he be given the same respect? Why does anyone even CARE who he's romantically interested in? It's totally unfair!

Thanks to a year-long school project where Joe must write about something in his life for each letter of the alphabet - an "alphabiography" - Joe learns more about his own self and his changing feelings as he enters his teen years.

Howe's choice of format is both fun and more approachable for readers who may hesitate at tackling more typically formatted books. And while the book can definitely stand alone, there are many references to Joe's friends who are featured in other books of the series.
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