No Ordinary Joe
There’s a lot going on in Dan’s life – writing songs, finishing primary school, keeping an eye on the unworthy boy who’s making the moves on his sister Kit, and chasing after his younger brother, Joe, when he escapes from the house. Joe has special needs, and the whole family do their part to take care of him, keeping all of them happily busy. Until Kit and his parents go to Italy for a wedding, leaving Dan and Joe with their headstrong Granny, who doesn’t quite understand just how much work looking after Joe can be.
A charming story about family, friendship, and community ties. The transition from primary to secondary school is somewhat neglected in Irish literature, and it’s lovely to see this heady period of life being captured so deftly. Dan is a beautifully drawn character, confident and loving, perhaps overly conscious of the needs of others, and apprehensive about taking steps away from the familiar. His friendship with eco-warrior neighbour Nadia is particularly lovely to watch develop, and his relationship with Joe is a joy to observe – caring, proud, silly, tender, funny, stressful, and deeply loving.
The pace of the story is unhurried, and the prose can be a bit dense at times, but Daffy’s humour and the delightful tone of Dan’s narration – particularly the lyrics that he is constantly composing – ensure that this is a book that readers will cherish.