Title: Joy School
Author: Elizabeth Berg
Genre: Young adult fiction
How I got the book: I bought the book
Summary (modified from Goodreads):
In this exquisite new novel by bestselling writer Elizabeth Berg, a young woman falls in love — and learns how sorrow can lead to an understanding of joy.
Katie, the narrator, has relocated to Missouri with her distant, occasionally abusive father, and she feels very much alone: her much-loved mother is dead; her new school is unaccepting of her; and her only friends fall far short of being ideal companions. When she accidentally falls through the ice while skating, she meets Jimmy. He is handsome, far older than she, and married, but she is entranced. As their relationship unfolds, so too does Katie’s awareness of the pain and intensity first love can bring.
I remember reading this novel the summer before going into my freshman year of high school… Or it might have been my sophomore year. Either way, I remember reading it and I wasn’t a huge fan of it. I didn’t really like most of the books I had to read in high school.
Reading this book again now, I understand the storyline, though I don’t understand why it was part of the curriculum.
Katie is the protagonist and narrator of the story. She moves to a new state and she has to figure out how to fit in. The kids her age across the street make fun of her a lot, she has a hard time making friends at school, and she develops a crush on a man ten years older than her.
This is a coming of age story, so Katie is the main focus. She comes across problems and over time she faces them and figures out how to deal with them.
Being at the age of 13, she learns a few good lessons. For example, she befriends someone who shoplifts all the time and gets herself away from that scene.
However, also being at the age of 13, I felt as though Katie was a bit too naive. She acted a lot younger than her age and a lot of her friends (new and old) treated her like a baby a lot of the time.
The narration was good, it was simple-minded. Which, again, leads me to question Katie’s age because she herself is the narrator. However, the writing was well done as we see the world through Katie’s eyes. I loved seeing her thoughts because she had a snarkiness to her that was fun to follow along with. She and I were thinking the same things a lot of the time.
Overall, this is a fun read, especially when you’re older watching Katie overcome such things. Moving to a new state and trying to fit in isn’t as uncommon as you would think. There are good lessons to be learned in this one.
Joy School by Elizabeth Berg gets 4 out of 5 stars.
“It’s always a surprise the first time you fall. That’s the one that hurts the most.” –Elizabeth Berg, Joy School
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