Steve Cushman. Heart with Joy. Vilas, NC: Canterbury House Publishing, 2010.

Julian’s mother has just left to help run her family’s motel in Florida and to focus on her writing. Although she and her husband say that it is just temporary, Julian – wise beyond his years at fifteen – knows that his parents’ marriage has been strained for some time.

The plan was for him to finish his sophomore year of high school in Greensboro, North Carolina, and to then move to Florida to live with his mother. However, in the four months since his mother left, Julian has changed in many ways. For one thing, his relationship with his father has improved greatly. Whereas before he was a “mamma’s boy,” Julian begins to see his dad in a new light and to realize the sacrifices he made for his family. Because his father works full-time as a nurse, Julian becomes responsible for the cooking and cleaning around the house. He also establishes meaningful friendships with “Old Lady Peters,” their elderly neighbor who shares her love of birds with Julian, and with Tia, a grocery store cashier who picks up on his passion for cooking on his weekly shopping trips. With Tia, he hones his culinary skills and finds a true partner.

When Julian visits his mother in Florida, he begins having serious doubts about staying there indefinitely. Although he and his father have made pleas for her to return, she will not make any commitments. She admits an infidelity, and Julian recognizes her selfishness. As he considers his options, Julian remembers a question that “Old Lady Peters” asked him when they first met: What fills your heart with joy? With that in mind, he makes a difficult decision.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Cushman, Steve, Guilford, Piedmont

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