Joshua’s Island by Patrick Hodges
Revised Edition (James Madison Series Book 1)
Publisher: Alpha Academic Press
Length: Full (301 Pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 5 stars
Review by: Myrtle
Joshua is small for his age. He has been bullied relentlessly for years, and all of his friends have drifted away from him. Eve is a pretty girl who has just been recruited into the popular clique. The two couldn’t be more different.
As they begin their final year of middle school, the unlikely pair find themselves partners in Science class. At first reluctant to work with him, Eve soon discovers hidden truths about not only Joshua but their school that turn her world upside-down.
The two form a relationship that will teach them both the true meaning of friendship, loyalty, and love… a relationship that will end up changing not only their lives, but the entire complexion of their school.
What happens when the bully-squad decides you’re their target for the school year?
Joshua is a smart thirteen-year-old boy, small in stature, who has learned (somewhat successfully) how to avoid the bully squad by accepting his outcast status and finding the least traveled areas on school grounds. He has had to banish himself to the far reaches of the schoolyard, settling most comfortably into a bleachers area far from the school lunch crowd, which he affectionately calls “The Island.”
He dreads the beginning of his last year in middle school, knowing with confidence that the bully squad (four big guys who have made his life hell) has no plans to leave him alone until he moves on to high school. Unfortunately, he is right. Kids who used to be his friends have shied away, most fearing they’ll be next in line for the bullies.
Enter Eve, who wants nothing more than to be in the “popular” crowd at school, and who has finally succeeded in being the bully-queen’s new best friend, has ditched her other friends in favor of awful Rhonda. Eve has heard terrible stories about Joshua from Rhonda, all untrue but nonetheless believable, and she is horrified when the Chemistry teacher pairs her with Joshua. “Can I have another partner? Please, anyone else? Anyone but him!” Eve begs, but their teacher doesn’t budge.
As you might expect, Eve is soon discarded and unseated as a “popular-girl” and has no one left but Joshua as a friend. The two form a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, which strengthens as the story progresses. Although the “puppy-love” relationship is a little too mature, in my opinion, for the two thirteen-year-olds, the friends are otherwise very believable.
Bullying is a serious and often brutal subject, and Joshua’s Island, although a fictional story, reflects the experience magnificently. It’s realistic, so be prepared for some physical violence and a few curse words, but all necessary to the true-to-life telling of this tale. Kids, parents, teachers, and school administrators should all read this book for an inside look at the realities of a victim’s daily life. In it, subtle teachings of ways to cope and how to survive can be found, but even the brightest student can’t outsmart the bullies all of the time.
Anyone looking for a realistic read on the subject of bullying in middle school or high school will be glad they picked up this book!