Today's Book Spotlight is on a series by Patrick Hodges. Joshua's Island and Ethan's Secret are two young adult books, written about middle school age kids. Each book has one character in common, Kelsey, and if you have kids who love a little bit of a mystery along with a great lesson about life, you'll want to get both of these books! Read on for book blurbs and my reviews.
Joshua's Island Blurb
Joshua is small for his age. He has been bullied relentlessly for years, and all of
As they begin their final year of middle school, the unlikely pair find themselves partners in Science class. At first reluctant to work with him, Eve soon discovers hidden truths about not only Joshua but their school that turn her world upside-down.
The two form a relationship that will teach them both the true meaning of friendship, loyalty, and love... a relationship that will end up changing not only their lives, but the entire complexion of their school.
Being beat up, kicked, punched and threatened was just a typical school day for Joshua and he didn't even tell his parents about it. He spent his time on 'the island' where he felt safe from the bully squad, at least until they 'took the island'.
I found Mr. Hodges use of secondary characters to be extremely well written and important in this story. We all know the importance of friendships in the middle school years and how when you feel like an outcast it's hard to break out of your shell and take a chance on the people who have spent so long treating you poorly.
Mr. Hodges gives the reader an extensive lesson in bullying and just how far it can go if left to fester with no parental or school intervention.
Ethan's Secret Blurb
A lover of mysteries, she finally gets the chance to solve something on her own when Ethan, a cute but mysterious loner appears in her class. Both fascinated and infatuated with him, Kelsey soon learns there are events at play in Ethan's life that are both tragic and dangerous. Events that, the deeper she digs, may end up threatening not only their relationship but their very lives.
The secondary story of her friendships with April, Bree, Baz, and Penny were artfully written. When Kelsey discovers one of her friends is a lesbian, her choices and support she offered were very well thought out and implemented for someone her age. Middle school is a difficult time for all kids, but kids who are questioning their sexuality often find themselves feeling alone and segregated. Patrick Hodges did a fantastic job of bringing this situation to light, and showing the positive way kids deal with homosexuality in schools today.
I had a chance to read this book as an early advance copy with my daughter, who identifies as part of the LGBT community. We were both very impressed with the LGBT story line, the emotions it evoked, and the conclusion to not only Ethan's secret, but to the story as a whole.
Patrick Hodges has written another wonderful book for middle school kids!
About the Author
I always enjoyed reading books, though I was convinced that I was not, and never would be, creative enough to come up with an original idea or story without cobbling it together from things I'd already seen.
And so, in my mid-forties, imagine my surprise when a story was born inside my head, and nine months later had grown so large that I couldn't hold it in any more. I'm sure many writers tell similar origin stories, but I sure wouldn't wish a three-decade gap between high school Creative Writing class and, you know, writing something actually creative.
Better a "late bloomer" than a "never bloomer," I guess.
What else? Oh, yeah, I live in Arizona with my amazing wife Vaneza, and our kids, June and Sunshine (one is a dog and one is a cat, I'll let you figure out which is which).