After reading the synopsis of Joshua’s Island (James Madison Series Book One) by Patrick Hodges, I was compelled to download the book and give it a go. Even so, initially I wasn’t sure how captivating a story about middle schoolers would be for an older reader like myself. But with each increasingly eager page-turn, I became all the more invested in the story and the plight of the characters.
The story centers on Joshua and Eve, two eighth grade students on opposite ends of the popularity spectrum: he, a small-for-his-age social outcast; and she, a beautiful A-crowder, newly minted by the school’s it-girl Rhonda.
My heart immediately went out to Joshua, a victim of bullying—something that has plagued him for his entire middle school existence. The psychological effects have been relentless and lasting, not only from living in constant fear of the next assault (courtesy of chief tormenter Brent and his band of cronies), but also from having been ostracized by the entire student body, including those he had once considered friends.
Joshua’s and Eve’s worlds are forced to collide in Science class, where much to their dismay, the teacher pairs them up as lab partners. Beyond horrified with the arrangement, Eve is none too subtle in her vocal objections. As expected, this sets off their teamwork experience (or lack thereof) on rather uneven, uncomfortable footing.
But neither of them would be prepared for the life-altering journey on which they were soon headed.
Always a glutton for a good love story, the one that gradually buds and then all-out blossoms in Joshua’s Island had me smiling my head off every step of the way. There’s just something about young love, and the way it’s written here in particular, that tugs at the heart strings like no other. The honesty. The awkwardness. The innocence. The sweetness. The sigh-inducing, chest-panging “awwww” moments that I’ll admit had me tearing up on more than one occasion.
Although Joshua and Eve are the driving force of this story, there are several supporting characters that also become crucial to its impact and momentum. Deservedly, some of these stand-outs get their own story in subsequent books in the series, and I look forward to reading them all.
When it comes down to it, Joshua’s Island is much more than a love story. It’s about friendship, family, loyalty, forgiveness, righting wrongs, good versus evil, and standing up for your convictions no matter the consequences. The lessons to be learned are invaluable, and you will walk away from this book not only contemplating how you treat others, but inspired to pay it forward.
Bullying is an issue that hits close to home for many, including myself, and based on the depth and authenticity of the characters and plot, I would imagine that Patrick Hodges was writing from a very personal place. In doing so, he has undoubtedly given hope to others who have experienced similar harassment and abuse, as well as the comfort in knowing they are not alone.
Needless to say, I adored this book and will be passing it along to my teenage daughters to read next. I just know they’ll love it too.
Please do yourself a favor and grab a copy of Joshua’s Island today.
And don’t forget to leave a review. 🙂
Image source: Amazon.com