JOE by Larry Brown… Tugs at the Heart Strings

JoeJoe by Larry Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

JOE is a perfect example of Southern Literature at its finest. The story begins with a boy and his family. They’re tired, dirty, and without a home. The boys father is an abusive drunk who refuses to help his family survive, and his son steps in to help out by asking for a job from Joe Ransom. Joe has problems of his own. He’s a stubborn, stoic man who doesn’t feel that he deserves happiness. His only ambition is to never go back to prison, but there are people out there who’d send him back in a heartbeat. The relationship that forms between Joe and Gary, the boy, will tug at your heart. They balance each other out and provide exactly what the other is looking for, even though they don’t realize it. You will become emotionally attached to these characters, and Larry Brown did an amazing job of making that happen.

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Stepping Out of My Zone: A Biography of My Reading History

I wouldn’t exactly call it my comfort zone, but I am definitely stepping out of my most commonly occupied zone.

When I began reading wayyyyy back in fifth grade (1990ish), I quickly became a Sweet Valley High junkie. Next was The Babysitter’s Club. I literally read hundreds of those teeny bopper books and loved every bit of them. Now that I think about it, it would actually be interesting and probably a bit horrifying to read one now.

Later during high school, I read every single Danielle Steele novel she’d ever written. Eventually, I got to the point where I could no longer tell them apart. Later, I would realize the reasoning behind that was basically the same reason she’d managed to be so prolific. Most of her novels were pretty much recycled plot lines where the characters had different names but the same voice and they were facing a somewhat different conflict in a different setting…. but when you’ve read them all and you look back, you realize they’re all essentially the same book.

So I decided to take a leap, and I had a spin with Nora Roberts and Karen Robards. Admittedly, they are both very similar to Danielle Steele, but there was more action and more to the stories… more variety, the characters had distinct voices and personalities, the authors had different writing styles.

Eventually though, I grew tired of the entire romance genre. I was sick of the happily-ever-afters, the cliche sexual tension, and the stubborn characters who denied their feelings for stupid reasons. I made a vow; the next book I chose to read would definitely not feature some cheesy cursive script on the cover with two impossibly attractive people embracing in the background. Continue reading