Back of Book Description:
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, with the help of an elderly neighbor who loves to spend her days bird-watching, 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.
My Rating: A+
Wow. This book sort of took my breath away. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this short, but extremely touching novel.
Julian is a great character, the kind of kid you can really connect with. His struggles with his parents separation are normal and easy to empathize with. Watching Julian grow into his love of cooking is interesting, when I never thought that reading about someone cooking could be. Mr. Cushman was able to take the scenes of Julian cooking and keep them completely real, while also very interesting. The reader is able to fall into the same rhythm Julian has as he chops, fries, and bakes his way through the challenges that are set in front of him.
I loved watching Julian's opinion of his parents grow and change. I remember the realization that my parents weren't the superhero's I thought they were, or the demon's either. Those days are hard for any child, no matter what age, and I think that a young adult reading this would really be able to gain a new insight with Julian's experience.
I appreciated how mature and well mannered Julian was, while at the same time his feelings that others would judge him for being so were that of a 15 year old. His relationship with Mrs. Peter's, the old lady next door, is sweet and where we learn the most about Julian. As events unfold I got choked up and even cried because the author lets us determine our own emotions about the ordeals. I loved this part of Cushman's writing.
All in all this is a wonderful read, and I highly recommend it. My copy was given to me for free in return for a fair and honest review. I will not be parting with it any time soon. Actually, I'm off to look up Steve Cushman's other works and add them to my wishlist. I suggest that you, my dear reader, do the same.