Howe, J. (2001). The misfits. (First Aladdin Paperbacks ed.). New York, NY: Aladdin Paperbacks.
Howe, J. (2005). Totally Joe. New York, NY: Aladdin Paperbacks.
Homophobia is a growing epidemic in schools across the country. Even in middle school, young adolescents are forced to hide who they are for fear of ridicule or physical violence. Often times, this issue is avoided altogether because it is too personal or controversial to address in schools; unfortunately, this problem will not go away. Children throughout the school system will continue to be bullied and intimidated for being themselves are unless we are all taught the importance of tolerance. James Howe’s The Misfits and Totally Joe are not just stories about the journey of one adolescent boy, but the story of his school community as well. As Joe struggles to come out to his parents and muster the courage to talk to a boy he likes, the school jointly struggles to accept the gay community and recognize LGBT clubs and organizations as well. These stories serve not only as an inspirational story and support system for young adolescents experiencing the same things as Joe, but it also illustrates a realistic model of the ways in which a school or community can change to love and accept all aspects of diversity. Of the many useful and redeeming qualities about Howe’s work, one of them makes the greatest statement. Joe is a normal kid just like everyone else. He has the same fears and struggles to find love and belonging from his peers and family. And though Joe may be gay, all he wants is to be able to hold hands with somebody that he likes, just like everybody else.