Judith Mammay’s debut novel, Knowing Joseph, opens with a little kid making a scene in a bowling alley parking lot. Brian Bertram walks away from him. “I’m glad I don’t know that kid!” he says.
But the boy kicking and screaming and throwing himself on the ground is Brian’s autistic brother, Joseph. So begins Brian’s struggle — to deal with his brother, to defend him, and ultimately, with the help of a surprising new friend, to understand him.
Judith — Judy, to her friends and
on LJ– is one of my online critique partners. I always enjoy her writing, so I picked up JOSEPH expecting to like it. I wasn’t disappointed, and I was especially taken with the details that let readers see Joseph as a real person and not just “the kid with autism.” Judy has an autistic grandson, and that was important to her. Knowing Joseph is a natural book choice for older siblings of autistic kids, since Brian grows to model so many caring, supportive strategies for helping his brother. It’s a great title for schools, too, because it helps readers understand what’s behind scenes like the temper tantrum at the bowling alley. And understanding leads to acceptance.
This book has many of the same themes as Cynthia Lord’s Rules, one of my favorites. Knowing Joseph is probably geared toward a slightly younger audience, though. I’m guessing the 8-10 crowd will like it best, and it has nice big print and plenty of white space so reluctant readers won’t be intimidated. Kudos to the BTP design team for making sure this book will be accessible to kids with special needs, too.
If you’d like to win an ARC of Knowing Joseph, just leave a comment below about why you’d like to read it (or with whom you’d like to share it). I’ll choose a name at random Friday night at 6pm EST to win!