Title: Joey’s Story
Author: Ruth Ann Stelfox
Major Themes: Child Abuse, Adoption
Synopsis: Joey, a young girl in a difficult family situation, fights back with all she has in this true story of the triumph of love and forgiveness.
I knew when I first heard about Joey’s Story that I wanted to read it. The main character is a woman I knew when we were growing up; she’s only a few years younger than I am. I was fascinated to read of her life, remembering, as I read, many of the events and people who were part of her life. However, the book would have been just as good if I didn’t know her.
The story opens with young Joey and her sister Maria struggling in a family with an unemployed father, a mother dying of cancer, three younger siblings including a young baby, and a number of renters (men) living in the basement of the trailer house. An older half-sister and two aunts also nearly live there, and let the girls in on their parties in the basement. The girls are taught to smoke, and often steal the last bits of beer from bottles left around. As their mother’s health deteriorates, the girl’s lives go from bad to worse, and Joey becomes an accomplished thief and shoplifter, as well as learning to swear. After their mother dies, things become even worse, and finally the children are removed from the home. They, and their father, are devastated.
After living in several foster homes, mostly good, one horrific, the children end up in a Children’s Home. They thrive there—and then their lives are changed again! A family wants to adopt all of them. More adjustments follow, especially when their adoptive father develops cancer. Joey struggles to believe in God after all she has experienced in her young life. Will she ever learn to forgive?
Joey’s Story is a vivid picture of what life is like for all too many children in our world today. It clearly depicts the beauty God can bring out of a ruined life of hurt and sin. This book will make your heart ache for Joey and so many other children in situations like hers. It makes me want to hug my children and love them even more. Not written for children, it is told as discreetly as possible while still showing the horrors of Joey’s young life.
WARNING: Definitely not for children; alludes to various forms of abuse, as well as drinking, smoking and swearing. Nothing is described explicitly.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults