Totally Joe


James Howe


Review By Keith Orr


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    “Dear Mr. Daly,

    Okay, I admit it.  When you first gave us this assignment I thought it was lame.  Write about yourself from A to Z?  Bo-ring (no offense).  Besides worrying that I wouldn’t know what to write for every single letter (Hello, does anybody know an x-word other than xylophone?  And does anybody play the xylophone?  And if they did, would anybody care?), well, I was also thinking, Can I really tell the truth about myself?  I’m not ashamed of my life or anything.  I’m only thirteen (twelve when I started writing this), so I doubt I’ve gotten to the really embarrassing stuff yet, but, let’s face it, I’m not exactly your average Joe, and I get called plenty of names because of it.  And then there was all the stuff that happened this year.  I mean, was I really going to write about all that?  And when you said we had to end every chapter with a Life Lesson to share with others, I thought:  Oh. My. God. That is so Oprah.”

So starts James Howe’s remarkable story of Joe Bunch.  Though marketed to Young Adults, I’ve yet to meet an Old Adult that has read the book that hasn’t found it completely engaging.  Joe is a charismatic kid who knows he is gay. Through the course of the alphabet we learn more about Joe: his crush, his friends, his coming of age.

Life Lessons include “There’s no such thing as a wasted wish”, “Religion is only as good as the people using it”, and “A day can start out ordinary and end up in the Top Ten”.

Letters include C is for Colin, the coolest kid in seventh grade (seriously) and Joe’s secret boyfriend.  O is for Oy – My Grandparents are not entirely convinced I am gay.  P is for Popular (Not).

By the time you get to Z, you will be in love with this kid, who learns that the best thing for him to be is Totally Joe.

James Howe is the award-winning author of the Bunnicula series, as well as the Misfits, the companion book to Totally Joe.  The Misfits inspired No Name Calling Week (



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