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Totally Joe

(The Misfits #2)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  5,143 ratings  ·  393 reviews
"Everybody says you and Colin were kissing."

"What? That's ridiculous!"

"For heaven's sake, Joe, if you and Colin want to kiss, you have every right to."

"We did not kiss," I told her.

Addie shrugged. "Whatever."

What was it with my friends?

From the creator of The Misfits, the book that inspired NATIONAL NO NAME-CALLING WEEK, comes the story of Joe Bunch....
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 24th 2007 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published September 27th 2005)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,143 ratings  ·  393 reviews

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Sep 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I work with middle schoolers, and every now and then I dabble a bit in adolescent literature. I have to say, I'm frequently disturbed by what I find in the genre. There are a lot of mass marketed young adult books filled with pain and angst. There are a lot of books about drug use, alcohol, abuse, pregnancy, STDs, and all of that crap that supposedly comes along with being a teenager.
I sort of understand why young adult lit can be so yucky and diactic much of the time. After all, you can't ignor
John Egbert
How this book makes me feel:

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I can not describe in words. I just cannot. I hold so much distaste and venom for this book that I will dissect the following conversation printed on the book jacket to, indeed, show you just one reason why I hate Joe.

"Everybody says you and Colin were kissing."

"What? That's ridiculous!"

"For heaven's sake, Joe, if you and Colin want to kiss, you have every right to."

"We did not kiss," I told her.

Addie shrugged. "Whatever."

What was it with my
Sep 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Joe is a quirky, very gay preteen boy at a small high school in upstate New York. He's been given an assignment from his English teacher to write an "alpha-biography" detailing his life from A-Z. Each chapter, written over the course of school year follows Joe in his process of coming out to his family, falling in love, breaking up, and standing up for himself. I really identified with him, though at times it reminded me of my own uncomfortable life growing up in small town Ohio and not feeling ...more
This book is awesome! And I found it entirely by accident. I picked up a bunch of new books in my library, and recognizing the author as the "Bunnicula" author, grabbed this one. This book is VERY different, and deals with a much-needed, though sensitive, topic. Joe is in 7th grade and his teacher has assigned a year-long writing project -- an alphabiography. For each letter of the alpabet, Joe has to write about himself. Early in the alphabet, we learn that when Joe was little, he preferred Bar ...more
Mar 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"There's no such thing as a wasted wish."

—Joe Bunch, Totally Joe, P. 21

"A day can start out ordinary and end up being in the top ten."

—Joe Bunch, Totally Joe, P. 184

I would give this four and a half stars, and for weeks I considered giving it five (I'm still considering it).

This book is somewhat difficult for me to review, as I disagreed with a lot of it personally. Still, I loved this story. It contains exceptionally funny material and empathetically heartbreaking moments that resonated
Nov 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Joe Bunch's 8th grade English teacher has given his students an assignment to write an "alphabiography" over the course of the school year. With each letter of the alphabet representing a different chapter, Totally Joe tells the story of a year in the life of a gay adolescent boy. Joe falls in love, has his heart broken, comes out to his family, and finds love and support among his friends and family. Howe does such a wonderful job of writing in the voice of a 13-year old boy that the reader can ...more
Mike Oaks
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Say “Hi” Joe

This time around it’s Joe’s turn to tell us all about his Misfit life...all twelve - scratch that - thirteen years of it. When we last left him, he was eyeing Colin. Wonder how that worked out?

Fun read. The format for Joe’s story made the pages turn quickly. 4.0 for dimples.

Kirstin Glawe
Mar 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is a multicultural children’s story that discusses the life of a middle school boy, Joe, who is gay. I loved the title page of this book because it catches the reader’s attention and is so significant to the story. The book is written as a alphabiography, or like a journal that goes through each letter where he has to write about something in his life, ending each letter with a life lesson. I thought that this was such a creative and interesting way to tell his story. It made the book ...more
Nov 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I loved James Howe's novel THE MISFITS, where a group of middle school outsiders challenges the school's name-calling habit as a student council campaign platform. Until last week, though, I hadn't gotten around to reading the sequel, TOTALLY JOE. This is a lighter look at what it's like to be a gay kid in middle school.

Howe introduces readers to Joe Bunch through his main character's "alphabiography," a series of essays he has to write about his life, with each topic starting with a different l
Apr 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Howe has written a book of a 12 going on thirteen year old boy, who has always exhibited rather flamboyant gay behavior and has an assignment to write an alphabiography. Just the concept of having a pre-teen write such a thing is outstanding. This assignment leads Joe towards understanding himself, his environment, his family and his friends as he puts down "on paper" what occurs in his life (and yes, X is for Xylophone!). As Joe discovers he can be gay, that he can come out, that he does not ha ...more
Jul 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a really great teen story about a boy in 7th grade whose teacher gives the class an assignment to "Write about yourself from A-Z....and end every chapter with a life lesson." Joe worries about whether he can really write the truth about himself and his life since so much has happened to him the past few months. But he gives it a try, and the result is a sweet book about a gay thirteen-year-old boy and the friends and foes who are in his life. The life lessons he writes at the end of each ...more
The Mifits was a great book. This is the sequel and this is so much better. This book was brave, powerful, moving, funny, honest and tender. The subject is being in 5th grade and being gay. It's all told from the perspective of a homework assignment of journaling for a year for each letter of the alphabet. This is 5th grade so the dating that goes on is about hand holding. There isn't even kissing. It's sweet. I was so sad for this book to end. I would love to know more about what happens to Joe ...more
LFPL Teen Services
Joe is assigned to write a biography in alphabetical order. As he does, he reveals what life is like for an openly gay twelve year old boy. Joe gets his first boyfriend, but is crushed when he breaks up with him. Joe discovers his family and friends are important, and that there is no equal to being yourselves.

Sep 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was awesome because it very accurately portrayed the life of a kid in middle school, who is gay, and closeted (well, at least for a little while), and is very relateable. I felt it could have been a bit longer, but I liked the idea of writing the book as an alphabiography.
Jul 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is my all time fave book!!!!!!!!!!! It has a lot of voice and character. It is also a heart warming story that I personally love!!! READ THIS BOOK!!!
Jennifer Mangler
I had to read this one, because I loved The Misfits so much. While I did enjoy it, I didn't connect with it in the same way. I'm definitely going to keep reading the books in the series.
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
A great story for middle school age kids who are LGBTQ.
Rick Hribko
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book! I was looking for books that would appeal for a student of mine with LGBTQ issues. I wish I had this book when I was younger! Comic and poignant at the same time, this book examines gay issues that face young men in a realistic way through the voice of a main character who totally captures the gay experience as a middle school student--if you were supported by your family. Perfect for middle school.
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jessica Anderson
Aug 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Jessica Anderson, Response #2

Joe was assigned to create an “alpha biography” by his seventh grade English teacher. He has to connect each letter of the alphabet to his life and then write about it. He realizes that this task might be a little harder than expected. Between dealing with a new crush, bullying at school, and just being a seventh grader; Joe realizes how crazy his life is. Joe uses his alpha biography to express his emotions, when talking about them becomes too hard. With the endle
Oct 29, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: teen
Quick (read it in four hours quick), fun, and has a big heart.

Though Totally Joe suffered from some underdeveloped characters, other had some surprising depth. Joe was extremely stereotypical, and I felt it went a little overboard with the flamboyant gay teen, but after reading an interview with the author I understood what he was trying to do. Let's take the most stereotyped character, the one everyone knows about, and stick you in their head.

Yes, Joe likes "girly" things. He likes clothes, co
Jan 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: glbt, male, romance, humor
Joe's assignment is to write an alphabiography-- each chapter begins with the letter of the alphabet and in his biography, Joe describes his recent past, present, and near future of coming out. Although Joe is young, thirteen, the first-person narration really doesn't give it away unless he specifically refers to his birthday. Joe is dealing with the requisite popular boy who wants to be his boyfriend, but only when it's behind closed doors because he isn't confident. Joe realizes he's got a gre ...more
Dec 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: realistic, gltbq, ya, funny
Joe is 12. His teacher has assigned his class an "alphabiography" - each kid has to write about their lives using the 26 letters of the alphabet to inspire each entry.
Joe is gay. His friends and family know it before he does and in the course of his alphabiography he offically realizes this, comes out, and starts to make positive change in his school.
I enjoyed this as a portrayal of a relatively normal gay kid who has a relatively easy experience coming out. In some ways I think we need more st
Feb 09, 2012 rated it liked it
My book club raised the question that our title character might be overly stereotyped, and I welcome insight from others who have read this. Personally, I think that part of the point of the book is that Joe is trying to be himself. One other character does sort of accuse him of being a stereotype, so I think that Howe acknowledges this.
Mostly, I think the point is that there are lots of books for athletes, lots of books for kids with divorced parents, lots of books for nerds, lots of books for
Feb 16, 2009 rated it liked it
this book is about a gay kid joe and he is a weird child. he plays with dolls a.k.a barbies and he enjoys it and he has a big crush on some high school popular boy named colin and he likes joe to but joe doesnt know that. after a party they both hook up and begin to date but everyone makes fun of them because they feel weird that a no body is going out with colin the joc. after some time a rumor goes around that them 2 were kissing but it was not true. they were bugging out and getting really an ...more
Jun 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: glbt
A fun read. A bit too sweet perhaps. It seemed like the author asked himself, "How can I improve somebody's self-esteem today? I'll write a book!" But there are times in life when a boost in confidence is just what is needed. I can easily picture a kid needing the feel-good "be yourself" message this book offers. Some people have complained about the stereotypical portrayal of a gay kid in the character of Joe, but I have known kids just like him. They need to read about someone like them. What ...more
May 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
I thought this book was (at best) meh.

1) STEREOTYPES- to quote my friend Kat "LIKETOTALLYHOMO" (yeah no spaces)

2) WRITING- (I'm sorry but I can't read something written like this)(it makes me think of math)

3) THAT SMILEY FACE THING- just a pet peeve...

4) "So how about extra credit?'- really? NO TEACHERS GIVE EXTRA CREDIT FOR USING "BIG WORDS"

A sweet, funny book -- I feel like I would have appreciated it more were I in the target age group this book was written for. Not amazing, but lovely.
Roger Hyttinen
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is such a fun book! Totally Joe is the second book in the Misfit series but can be read as a standalone. This middle-school series follows a group of friends, and I believe each book in the series follows one of their stories. Totally Joe is told from the point of view of Joe Bunch, an optimistic gay 12-year-old boy who is given the assignment to write his alphabiography: the story of his life from A to Z, which he writes in diary format.

Things get especially interesting when he gets to “C
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Synopsis: "Meet Joe Bunch. Lovable misfit and celebrity wannabe from Paintbrush Falls, New York. Like his longtime best friends Addie, Skeezie, and Bobby, Joe's been called names all his life. So when he's given the assignment to write his alphabiography -- the story of his life from A to Z -- Joe has his doubts. This whole thing could be serious ammunition for bullying if it falls into the wrong hands.
But Joe discovers there's more to the assignment -- and his life -- than meets the eye. Especi
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Do you think that this was a really good project to assign? 9 45 May 10, 2018 03:05PM  

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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

James Howe has written more than eighty books in the thirty-plus years he's been writing for young readers. It sometimes confuses people that the author of the humorous Bunnicula series also wrote the dark young adult novel, The Watcher, or such beginning reader series as Pi

Other books in the series

The Misfits (4 books)
  • The Misfits (The Misfits, #1)
  • Addie on the Inside (The Misfits, #3)
  • Also Known as Elvis (The Misfits, #4)

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