Totally Joe

(Part of The Misfits)
For Ages: 10 - 14
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Meet Joe Bunch. Lovable misfit and celebrity wannabe from Paintbrush Falls, 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. This 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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Book Details:
  • Atheneum Books for Young Readers | 
  • 208 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780689839573 | 
  • October 2005 | 
  • Grades 5 - 9
List Price $21.00


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Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to
Totally Joe
By James Howe


Assigned to write his alphabiography—a chronicle of his life with chapters headed from A to Z—seventh-grader Joe Bunch is at first uncertain. This English assignment is going to be boring. What if he tells the truth and someone besides his teacher reads it? And the part about ending each chapter with a “life lesson” seems totally lame. But as Joe’s chapters build from “A” for his best friend Addie to “F” for family to “T” for turning thirteen and beyond, he finds his entries becoming increasingly honest and thoughtful. He writes about his crush on Colin Briggs, about being gay, and about a world where acceptance and ridicule can be confusingly intertwined.

The unique personality at the center of Howe’s lively character study is captured through the novel’s unusual format: an “alphabiography” peppered with pages of transcripted dialogue, instant messages and chapter-ending “life lessons.” But perhaps what is most striking about Totally Joe is not the stand-out hair, apparel and attitude of its flamboyant protagonist but the poignant similarities between his experience and that of all young teens as they strive to be true to themselves in a junior high world where following the crowd—and not one’s own heart—often seems to be the easiest and least painful see more

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