Title: Heart with Joy
Author: Steve Cushman
Publisher: Canterbury House Publishing, Ltd.
Publication Date: September 28, 2010
In Heart With Joy, fifteen-year-old Julian Hale’s life is turned upside down when his mother suddenly moves from North Carolina to Venice, Florida under the pretense of running her parents’ motel and finishing the novel she has been working on 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.
Six weeks after his mother leaves, Julian’s father decides to run a marathon. This surprises Julian because he has never seen his father exercise, but once he agrees to help him train the two develop the sort of close relationship they’ve never had before. Also, with the help of an elderly neighbor, 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. 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 cooking and bird watching, about writing and pottery, and about falling in love and the sacrifices we all make. But ultimately, it’s about the importance of following your heart and trusting that it will take you where you need to go.
This book is truly a great story about a teenager dealing with difficult issues in his life. I definitely related to Julian in the way that he was really close to his mother but not particularly close with his father. His mother leaving, although painful, really turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it allowed Julian and his father to reconnect and establish a relationship.
I really enjoyed how the author incorporated bird watching and cooking into the book. I’ll admit, I am not a huge fan of either in real life, but the way the author described them both was very entertaining and also very informative. The topics were woven into the book seamlessly, allowing me to follow the story but also learn little tidbits along the way without realizing it. I can actually still remember some of the recipes and some of the bird species that were mentioned in the book.
My favorite supporting character was Mrs. Peters. Who doesn’t love a sweet, elderly lady that gives you milk and cookies every morning before school? I really believe she helped Julian get through a rough patch in his life that he may not have been able to get through without her. Plus, any person that was on The Price is Right is OK in my book! My least favorite character would have to be Julian’s mom. Even though it ended up being good for Julian, the way she deserted her son and husband was a cowardly move in my opinion.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in young adult literature that focuses on family, relationships, and love. And I guarantee, once you pick it up you won’t want to put it down until you finish!
Source: Provided by author in exchange for a fair review.