Thursday, November 4, 2010

Review: Heart with Joy

Heart with Joy by Steve Cushman

Publication Date: September 2010
Publisher: Canterbury House Publishing
Format: Paperback, 182 pp
Genre: YA (Young Adult)
ISBN-13: 9780982539637
ISBN: 0982539630

(Received for review from the author)

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

In Heart with Joy, fifteen year old Julian Hale's life is turned upside down when his mother suddenly moves from North Carolina to Florida under the pretense of running her parents' motel and finishing the novel she has been writing for years. While Julian has always been closer to his mother and wants to go with her, she tells him he has to stay with his father until the end of the school year.

When Julian's father decides to run a marathon, Julian agrees to help him train, and the two develop the sort of close relationship they've never had before. Also, Julian learns that the most important thing in life is to follow your heart. And Julian's heart leads him to a passion for cooking and a young cashier at the local grocery store even as his own parents drift apart. By the end of the novel, Julian is forced to choose between staying with his father and going to live with his mother.

Heart with Joy is an uplifting coming of age novel about the importance of following your heart and trusting that it will take you where you need to go.


Steve Cushman has crafted a YA novel that will appeal to adults as well as children. Cushman shows the reader how everyone's experience with growing up can be different. Finding out who you are isn't easy and having the ability to trust yourself and your decisions is a big step for anyone. The author shows us that what makes you happy and fills you with joy, gives purpose and meaning to our lives.

Julian Hale isn't exactly thrilled with the idea of staying with his dad in North Carolina for the rest of the school year. Julian has always been close to his mom and now she's going to Florida to help run a motel and complete the great American novel. When Julian's dad decides to run a marathon, he and Julian become closer than they ever have been as they train together. Julian finds the freedom that he has always dreamed up in cooking. With the help of Tia, a cashier at the local grocery Julian learns about love and friendship, family an tenderness. He learns to believe in himself and have confidence in his own decisions. Even when that decision is whether to stay with his dad or go to live with his mom.

I liked this book a lot. I thought it had a real tenderness and it was heart warming. Julian's relationship with his father was interesting. He was also close to his mom and his dad kind of got lost in the mix. But, he is forced to stay with is dad, he soon learns that they could have been close all along. I liked the way Cushman shows the growth of the relationship between not only Julian and his father, but between Julian and Tia as well. We all need that one person to believe in us, to tell us that our dreams are possible, this novel gave Julian that person, but it still let him learn to believe in himself and his abilities.

I also liked the idea that Julian was a budding chef. Lately it seems that food has created a culture all it's own, with 'foodies' and people who are interested in cooking and for family and friends. I thought the author used what society is interested in to create an aspect of the novel that would appeal to a lot of different people. This is a story that has memorable characters and one that will probably stay with you for a while even after you finish it. I recommend it to young adults or anyone who wants to read a great coming of age novel, about learning to stand on your own and finding what fills your heart with joy.

Heart with Joy is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Steve Cushman's debut novel, Portisville, was the winner of the 2004 Novello Literary Award. Portisville went on to be named a finalist for both the Independent Publisher Book Award in general fiction and Foreword magazine's Book of the Year Award in literary fiction. His Fracture City was published in 2008. Cushman is an x-ray technologist and lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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