Joy School


Joy School
Author: Elizabeth Berg
Title: Joy School
Genre: Women’s Lives and Relationships
Publication Date: 1997
Number of Pages: 208p
Geographical Setting: Missouri
Time Period: Late 1950s/Early 1960s
Series (If applicable): The Katie Nash Series

Plot Summary:
Katie Nash is a 13-year-old “army brat”.  Her mother recently passed away, and her father has moved her from Texas to Missouri.  Katie is left to fend for herself in a new school with new neighbors in a new town.  Her best friend’s letters are getting shorter and shorter, and Katie is not so sure about her new friends.  While ice skating one day, she falls through the ice and eventually makes her way into a nearby gas station to Jimmy (who looks just like Superman and saves her life.)  Told from Katie’s point of view, this book covers a lot of ground in the 13 year old’s life from scary new friendships, the bad girls at school, how love is supposed to feel, and what it has been like growing up without a mother.  Katie is precocious, careful and full of questions that she has to answer for herself.

Subject Headings: First Loves, Adolescence, Loss of Mother, Father and Daughter Relationships, Coming of Age Story

Appeal: Character driven, heartfelt, measured, heartbreaking, honest, awkward, giddy, funny, introspective, reminiscent, nostalgic, sweet, memorable.

3 terms that best describe this book:
Internal, passionately youthful, reflective

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Still Here With Me:  Teenagers and Children on Losing a Parent by Suzanne Sjoqvist and Margaret Myers (children and teens express their own feelings of loss)
Vintage Fashions for Women: the 1950s & 60s (photos and patterns for A-Line Skirts and Peter Pan collar blouses that Katie and Taylor Sinn love)
Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Tough Stuff: Stories of Tough Times and Lessons
Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Kimberly Kirberger (Teens sharing stories about difficult life situations)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
Object Lessons by Anna Quindlen (12 year old’s perspective of family life)
Offsides: A Novel by Kerry Madden-Lunsford (Coming of age story of a girl who moves to a new town with her father)
The Usual Rules by Joyce Manard (a young girl moves in with her father after the loss of her mother)

Katy A. Hite


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