Heart With Joy
In Heart With Joy, fifteen year old Julian Hale's life is turned upside down when his mother suddenly moves from North Carolina to Florida under the pretense of running her parents' motel and finishing the novel she has been working on for years. While Julian has always been closer to his mother and wants to go with her, she tells him he has to stay with his father until the end of the school year.
Six weeks after his mother leaves, Julian's father decides to run a marathon. This surprises Julian because he has never seen his father exercise, but once he agrees to help him train the two develop the sort of close relationship they've never had before. Also, with the help of an elderly neighbor, Julian learns that the most important thing in life is to follow your heart. And Julian's heart leads him to a passion for cooking and a young cashier at the local grocery store even as his parents drift apart. By the end of the novel, Julian is forced to choose between staying with his father and going to live with his mother.
Heart With Joy is an uplifting coming of age novel about cooking and bird watching, about writing and pottery, and about falling in love and the sacrifices we all make. But ultimately, it's about following your heart and trusting that it will take you where you need to go.
"Heart With Joy is a coming-of-age novel that reminds us that not everyone comes of age in the same way. Julian Hale, not quite sixteen, finds himself learning about adulthood, old age, death, his deepest passions, and most of all, what it means to love—family, friends, a girl named Tia, and himself. In his third book, Steve Cushman traces Julian’s development in straightforward, simple language and in so doing creates a remarkably vivid, attractive, credible, and memorable character who stays with the reader long after the book is closed. --Kelly Cherry, author of The Society of Friends
"Come home Boy, I got Cancer, Kill me." It was his father's voice, a thing he hadn't heard in twenty years.
So begins Portisville, a story of love and betrayal, mystery and murder. Jimmy Wills knows he won't do what Truman Wills has demanded, but he finds himself drawn to the place of his birth by forces he isn't quite able to name.
He discovers the town is remarkably the same. But in the course of his short visit, Jimmy begins to uncover disturbing secrets from the past, including the truth about his mother's murder. Truman was charged with the killing, but he was acquitted and the crime has remained unsolved.
The murdered woman still haunts the dreams of her son, who was taken away at fourteen and raised by an aunt in North Carolina. Jimmy has tried since then not to think too much about his father, this hard and bitter man who had never once called him on the phone until his eerie demand to be killed.
But when Jimmy pulls up to his father's house, rundown now and set deep in the woods, the two men slowly begin to reconnect, with all of the promise and tragedy that entails.