“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…” You are now in church, specifically at a funeral. Be prepared to feel pain. Brutal, unjust, soul-searing pain—the kind that makes you question everything about your life, your future, your faith. In this sequel to Joseph, the reader is immediately plunged into chaos and deep family crisis. Joseph and his family are gathered at church to attend the funeral for Joseph’s beloved cousin Jasmine who has just been fatally shot by Joseph’s mother’s drug-crazed boyfriend. If you read the prequel, you know that Joseph has been living with his aunt, uncle, and cousin Jasmine to be safe, away from the danger, drugs, and crime of his mother’s apartment with her drug-dealer boyfriend Bow until his father completes his deployment to Iraq. Joseph wants to make something of his life—like most of Momma’s family has done. He wants to attend the same college Jasmine and his aunt, uncle, and grandparents—and even his mother—attended. But that was before the drugs, the addiction, and the divorce changed everything. Jasmine was Joseph’s role-model: she was ready to graduate college and change the world. She had everything going for her—loving, supportive family, friends, connections, beauty, and a warm, engaging personality. That is, until Joseph’s Momma brought Bow into their lives, and a random shot of violence changed everyone’s world forever. Be prepared to read a graphic account of the damage one bullet can wreak. Ready yourself for piercing pain. Steel yourself against the flood of guilt and grief you might feel if you realized that your Momma, through her lifestyle, addiction, and friendships, brought down all of this horror upon your family—and yet you still love her. She’s still your Momma. But, to add to the guilt and grief, you are discovering that you can’t help your Momma—and neither can anyone else, because the only person who can help Momma is Momma. She’ll shake you down for your hard-earned money, try to steal your dead cousin’s jewelry for drug money, and break every heart in a loving family. What can a high school-aged boy do? Howdo you turn your back on your Momma and go forward towards a righteous path?
Author Moses, in spare and simple language, manages to pack every nuance of emotion into tight, brief chapters that, in large print on pages with much white space, might seem to be written for younger readers. Don’t be fooled. This is not a book for young readers, but a young reader could understand the language. There may be some younger readers who need to read this book, but I wish that weren’t true. What the author has done here is truly extraordinary: she has given us the bare truths of Joseph’s Grace, and we can, unfortunately, adequately fill in the blanks. That’s what’s so hard to read. Bang, bang—dead. No fancy language, because the language of grief, fear, and love has no need for that. If you choose to meet Joseph, you’ll never forget him. This is a stunning read for mature young adults. 153 pages
Reviewed by: Shari Shaw, B.A., M.L.I.S., Michigan, USA