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Jo Joe (Black Bear, Pennsylvania #2)

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  63 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
A Black Bear, Pennsylvania novel

Jo Joe is a mystery of the heart about Judith Ormond, a young mixed race Jewish woman. Seventeen years earlier, violence and hatred had driven her away from the small Pocono Mountains village where she was raised by her white Christian grandparents. Now,with the death of her beloved grandmother, she must reluctantly break her vow to never re
Hardcover, 314 pages
Published May 6th 2013 by Pixel Hall Press
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Apr 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Judith Ormand returns to Black Bear, Pennsylvania, to bury her grandmother and to sell the family farm. Growing up as the only Black and the only Jew in an insular village was not a happy time for Judith. She explains, “’To me, Black Bear has always been a single, monstrous being, small-minded, bigoted and treacherous.’” Once back to the place to which she had vowed never to return, she is forced to re-evaluate her “black and white” memories and opinions of others, especially her high school fri ...more
Jo Joe by Sally Wiener Grotta is an excellent, well-written book, in my opinion.

It tells the story of a week in the life of Judith Ormand, a young Jewish woman of mixed ethnicity, who returns to the village of Black Bear, Pennsylvania after the death of her grandmother. Her grandmother, Martha, had made her promise seventeen years before, never to return to the village where she, Judith, had encountered prejudice and hatred. After receiving an anonymous message that she is needed by Martha, Judi
November Is Christmas Scary Spirit The Haunted Reading Room
Jo Joe by Sally Wiener Grotta
5 stars

Set in Black Bear, Pennsylvania, a fictional milieu created by authors Sally Wiener Grotta and Daniel Grotta, “Jo Joe” is a multilayered tale of small-community life, bigotry, entrenched religion, and one individual’s need to break free to assert her individuality, in the face of community pressure to either conform or to disappear. Judith Ormand is a Parisian-born product of a black French Jew and a Pennsylvania mountains Moravian. Raised until adolescence in
Marcy Sue
May 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The mere act of humanizing the farmhouse in the beginning of the novel shows the skillful manner in which the author sets the mood for the unfolding of this story. Detailed descriptions of everything from the trees to the appearance of secondary characters to Judith's flashback of memories, made curling up to read something to look forward to and plan for.

"JoJoe" is a skillful, emotional journey into the life of Judith a woman who is black, Jewish and Moravian amongst other things. It tells of
Aug 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jo Joe by Sally Wiener Grotta is a Pixel Hall Press publication. This book was released in May 2013. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This book is set in Black Bear, Pennsylvania, a village in the Poconos Mountains.
Judith, a mixed race woman, and Jewish, was raised here by her white, Christian grandparents.

With Judith's dark skin, her religion and a French accent, her life would have been unbearable if it hadn't have been for Joe. Joe be
David Groves
Jul 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This story is about the main character's heart, which seems complete and whole at the beginning, when she traipses into her old hometown as a conquering hero. Even the reader is fooled. But gradually, you start seeing through Judith's anger, her preconceptions, and her inability to reassess. In fact, there's a lot of growth in this lyrical novel, and that's the best fiction, where the characters find ways to stretch themselves and become bigger than they were at the start.

For most of the novel,
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sep-13
"Jo Joe" is a captivating story of a woman forced to return to Black Bear, her childhood home. Once there, she reflects on happy memories with Joe and her Grandparents and then sad and painful memories of suffering at the hands of bigotry.
Judith (Jo) was the daughter of a white Christian mother and a black Jewish father. After her mother's death she moved to Black Bear to live with her maternal Grandparents. Her color and religion singled her out and she was constantly bullied and tormented wit
Teena in Toronto
May 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Judith's dad is a black Jew from Paris and her mom was a white Christian from Pennsylvania. When her parents split up, Judith and her mom move to the Manhattan (from Paris). When her mom dies, Judith is a young teenager and moves to Black Bear, PA, to live with her grandparents on their farm. Judith is different from the other residents because she is black and Jewish and gets picked on by the other kids. One of her schoolmates, Joe, protects her and they become best friends (he nicknames her "J ...more
Suzy Wilson
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
JoJoe is a story about the ties that bind.

Raised in Balck Bear Pennsylvannia, Judith known (only to her best childhood friend and protector Joe) as Jo, returns to her childhood home upon the death of her Grandmother (Gramma). Always perceiving herself as an outsider, Judith has set herself a week to wind up her grandmother's estate (several properties, including a farm) and get back to her real life.

What follows is a tightly-written exposé of that week, as Judith learns about and begins to unde
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In beautifully written prose with a compelling style, emotional descriptions hit with a visceral punch, and stay long after the book is shelved. Sally Wiener Grotta has provided the turmoil of a lifetime and compressed it into eight short days, as Judith (also known as Jo) returns to her childhood home after the death of her grandmother. Few things can reduce a functional adult to a quivering mass of insecurity as will those two elements: and we follow every step of the journey as secrets and da ...more
May 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Judith Ormand is a mixed race Jewish woman. After her mother died, she was raised in a mountain village in Pennsylvania by her white Christian grandparents. Sally Wiener Grotta's novel, Jo Joe, opens with Judith's return to her grandparents home after a seventeen year absence. Her grandmother had recently died and she needs to settle the estate. She allows herself one week.
The experiences of the twelve years Judith lived with her grandparents seriously impacted her life. With the exception of o
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Life always seems to have an uncanny way of revealing itself over time. This is a compelling and poignant story that touched on everything from love and hate, to prejudice and compassion, and did so in a totally engaging way. "Jo Joe" definitely stimulated my thinking about a number of personal, as well as societal issues. As I followed Judith's (Jo's) confrontation and resolution of these issues, I also attempted to confront and resolve them. The book in and of itself is haunting. It's haunted ...more
May 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
The novel is powerful, intentionally small in scope – it’s about the circumstances that have made Judith (Jo) who she is. This book would be a good choice for reading groups.

Jo Joe takes place in Black Bear, Pennsylvania, a small somewhat isolated, mostly white, mostly Christian community in the Poconos. The main character, Judith Ormond, is the half Afro-French (by way of Senegal) and half American Jewish granddaughter of beloved long-time community members, the Schmoyers. She comes to live wit
Babus Ahmed
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Judith Ormond returns to Black Bear, Pennsylvania after receiving a message telling her the Grandmother needs her. Her Grandmother Martha, has been battling a terminal illness for quite a while but didn't want Judith informed. Judith returns after her demise and find Black Bear the oppressive and hostile community she left seventeen years ago, however there have been notable changes in the community in this time and Judith is forced to look at her own attitudes when dealing with ghosts of her pa ...more
Gill Chedgey
Oct 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Jo Joe by Sally Weiner Grotta

This was an e-book from LibraryThing.
There are two aspects of this book that really stood out for me; one was the cinematographic descriptions.
Right from the start of the book I could see the landscapes and the people and the events unfold as if I were watching a film. And it made me think that I would love to see this story on the big screen.
The second and dominant aspect was the book’s ability to challenge our preconceptions of what racism and prejudice is really
Jonel Boyko
Sep 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Grotta tackles some very tough subjects in a realistic and heartrending manner. She evokes multiple emotions throughout this novel. She has the ability to make you laugh and to make you cry with her amazing abilities as a storyteller. As a reader you are drawn into this fantastic world.

The main character in this novel is extremely well put together. Grotta takes the time to introduce you to every part of her character. I love how you really get into the main character`s head. You are able to ex
Oct 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Jo Joe was a really great book that we highly recommend. Featured in the fictional town of Black Bear, Pennsylvania, Jo Joe follows a very courageous and misunderstood woman, Judith Ormand as she is forced to face the demons from her past.

After hearing the sad news of her Grandmother's passing, Judith returns home to a place she had vowed to never go back to. A place where she was betrayed by her best friend, by most in the town itself, and where she was brutally raped.

Struggling to cope with
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-reviewed
It is an amazing perceptive story about Judith a woman in her thirties which's ancestry is manifold and therefore has to fight for her place among the people she should belong to. Because of her grandma's death she is going back to the little village where she has sworn never to set foot again. Judith is black, Jewish, French, American and African. She lived there during her teenage and had to flee after she has been raped.
Back at the village with a lot of hate and unsolved problems she met all
***TRIGGER WARNING: Rape scene and attempted rape scene***

This beautifully written piece of fiction reads as though it's the author's own memoir. There were several instances in which I thought Judith was the author, not Sally Wiener Grotta.
Join Judith Ormand, a biracial woman who returns to the small town that she grew up in, Black Bear, Pennsylvania, a town of biogtry and hatred. Judith is back in town for her grandmother's funeral, where she must confront not only the prejudices of other vill
Rhonda Lomazow
Aug 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jo joe is a heartwrenching bookthat unfolds as a mystery.Why was Judith summoned back to Black bear a small town in the Poconos 17years after her grandmother told her never to return.a town where as a mixed race child black &Jewish on her French fathers side white Christian on her mother's.she faced severe racial prejudice.where her best friend Joe a gentle giant had turned on her&became one of her tormentors.why after years of her grandmother showing Joe contempt does she leave him & ...more
Jennifer Zuna
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was truly a very emotional novel. There were happy moments when she reflected on memories of time spent with her grandparents or Joe, then tear jerking moments when you read all that she'd been through. My favorite character is Joe. Even though she openly made known how much she disliked him, he took it, never setting the record straight because it would have made her grandmother look bad. That takes a lot of strength and character. This was a wonderful book, one I'm thrilled that I had a c ...more
James Kendrick
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Without giving an spolers, Jo Joe is a wonderfully told story of a woman forced to come back to her childhood home. She learns many things during this action-packed visit, that it's possible to be bigoted while suffering at the hands of bigotry, that things are sometimes not what they seem, and that tolerance is a dish served out equally. Absolutely loved this book, read it in one day.

Thank you Sally for writing this book.
Dorothy Resnick
Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book. It held my attention and challenged my thinking. Each character was unique and had a special story. I can't wait to discuss it with my book club. It was an easy, yet a complicated situation.
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: goodreads-wins
What an amazing and moving book. I love when you finish reading a book but it stays with you. Highly recommend it!
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: english-reads
From the beginning to halfway through this book, it would have been a three-star for me. But damn.. how everyting evolved towards the end.. wow. I could not lay this book down anymore. I was curious about the story what happened to Joe but i never expected the role Gramma had on this. The characters of this book were really well done. I really liked the parts with Gramps and Joe. The main protagonist Judith was a bit annoying sometimes. There were tough times behind her but the way she handled e ...more
Nov 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Jo Joe is an intense, well written and highly effective novel about prejudice, the racial prejudice of a small rural and very white community, and the prejudices of the central character, Judith Ormund, a woman of mixed African, French, Jewish and American Moravian Protestant descent, written in the first person singular from Judith's point of view.

The spirit eroding effect of prejudice, fear and hatred is vividly portrayed in the rage and loathing of the central character, Judith Ormund, known
Mar 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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May 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Judith got out of Black Bear a long time ago, promising herself she would never return. But, when she receives an anonymous phone call telling her that her grandmother needs help, it seems that a return to Black Bear is on the horizon.

Judith was doing work in Africa when she received the call, so by the time she received the message, her grandmother had already passed away.
Being the last surviving member of her family, she is forced to return to Black Bear and face the place that didn’t accept
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
On the surface, Jo Joe seems to be a simple story about a woman returning to her hometown after the death of her grandmother. But it becomes clear, very early on in the novel, that in fact this book is so much more complex, fascinating and....complicated than you could have ever imagined.

Jo Joe focuses on our heroine, Judith, who returns to her hometown of Black Bear after her grandmother dies (unexpectedly, to her, although practically everyone else saw it coming). Gramma's death forces Judith
May 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2013
A Black Bear novel.

I really enjoyed Sally Weiner Grotta's style of writing and was quickly immersed in this novel, not least because of its underlying issue of race relations. Unfortunately, what let it down, for me, was the slightly weak and rather predictable denouement. Although I had to wait to see how the author would actually achieve her ending, it was becoming obvious by half way through, in which direction we were heading.

Judith, or Jo, was the daughter of a black Jewish father and a whi
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Let me tell you a story. It’s about the life I lead and would lead if I were someone, somewhere or somewhen else. And that’s why I’m a storyteller, because I always wonder what’s around the corner, over the next mountain, or just in front of me but hidden. I use words and my camera to explore what I want to understand and what I need to communicate. As for exploring, I’ve been on assignment as a w ...more
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Black Bear, Pennsylvania (2 books)
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