Rapid Reviews

Joe Nuthin’s Guide to Life by Helen Fisher

Sometimes you find a book at the right time, and sometimes a book finds you.

Joe Nuthin’s Guide to Life came into my life at a point where I was already emotional and crying at the drop of a hat. So it will probably come as no surprise to you when I say that I cried through probably 75% of this novel.

Joe loves predictability. But his life is a surprising adventure.

Joe-Nathan likes the two parts of his name separate, just like his dinner and dessert. Mean Charlie at work sometimes calls him Joe-Nuthin. But Joe is far from nothing. Joe is a good friend, he’s good at his job, good at making things and good at following the rules, and he’s learning how to do lots of things by himself. 

Joe’s mother knows there are a million things in life he isn’t prepared for. While she helps guide him every day, she’s also writing notebooks full of advice about the things she hasn’t told Joe yet, things he might forget and answers to questions he hasn’t yet asked. 

Following her wisdom – applying it in his own unique way – this next part of Joe’s life is more of a surprise than he expects. Because he’s about to learn that remarkable things can happen when you leave your comfort zone, and that you can do even the hardest things with a little help from your friends.

Everything about this book was beautiful. From Joe’s struggles to make sense of the world to those who helped him when he needed it. I LOVED how he was so certain of everything, despite the issues his personal restrictions give him. He is so inherently good that the thought that people don’t have the potential is almost foreign and he sees things in those around him that others overlook.

His determination to befriend Charlie because he sees something in him is enough to make me cry again as I write this review. He is just so sweet and naive, but that naivety leaves him open to hurt because of unscrupulous people like Charlie’s father and Owen who don’t want to take the time to look beyond the outer shell and the fact that Joe is different, but also the possibility of true friendships with people like Chloe and Charlie.

I have to be honest, the bit that tugged the heartstrings the most was when he was trying to process his mother’s death and was so matter-of-fact about it – until he was trying to talk to her on the bench as was their usual routine.

I really loved this book, and the end was uplifting and life-affirming and still brought me to tears for probably the twelfth time in a single 4-hour reading session – as that’s how long I sat and read this book for, in order to finish it in a single sitting.

This book tugs firmly at the heartstrings, so it is the perfect book to sit down with and read on a rainy day with a cup of tea and some biscuits, but make sure you stock up on tissues beforehand. This book will make you cry.

5-star rating
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