Jo Joe

Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Members' Titles
General Fiction (Adult)
Pub Date
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.


A mystery of the heart.

Judith Ormand was the only Jew in a tiny Pennsylvania village, where she was raised by her white Christian grandparents. To make matters worse, she was also the only Black. Now, as a young woman, she must break her vow to never return to the town she hates. During the one-week visit, she buries her beloved grandmother, confronts the white boy who broke her heart, has a brutal run-in with a violent bully from her youth, and uncovers a long-buried secret that makes her question the fundamental “truths” of who she is and what she believes.

Within the framework of a beautifully crafted, character-driven story, “Jo Joe” explores issues of prejudice, bigotry and the two-edged sword of memory.

Advance Praise

"Thought-provoking and inspiring." – Margo Crispino Azzarelli

"I couldn't stop reading - I needed to know how it ended." – Bonnie Fladung

"A riveting read. Astute, psychologically believable and moving." – Rabbi Peg Kershenbaum

Marketing Plan

Jo Joe’s themes of Jewish and Black identity, and childhood memories as an "outsider" are natural material for lively, interesting book club discussions. Pixel Hall Press will be marketing Jo Joe directly to book clubs, teachers and other book discussion groups. Groups may purchase Jo Joe for a volume discount price. A free Jo Joe study guide for group leaders and teachers is downloadable from Groups may also arrange a Skype or phone dialog with Sally Wiener Grotta, or, in some cases, a personal appearance.

Available Editions


NetGalley Praise

"Jo Joe" is a captivating story of a woman forced to return to Black Bear, her childhood home. Once there, she reflects on happy memories with Joe and her Grandparents and then sad and painful memories of suffering at the hands of bigotry. Judith (Jo) was the daughter of a white Christian mother and a black Jewish father. After her mother's death she moved to Black Bear to live with her maternal Grandparents. Her color and religion singled her out and she was constantly bullied and tormented with racial prejudice. Joe, her best friend, became her protector until one day he suddenly pushes her away. Devastated, Judith leaves Black Bear vowing never to return. Upon the death of her Grandmother Judith breaks her vow and returns to settle the estate, and in turn, discovers hidden truths and deep secrets are revealed. She finds more questions than answers about the racism that scarred her childhood. A vividly haunting tale that is very insightful and emotionally abundant.
Recommends This Book
Suzy Wilson's review Aug 31, 13 · edit 4 of 5 stars bookshelves: coming-of-age, family-issues Read from August 18 to 31, 2013 JoJoe is a story about the ties that bind. Raised in Balck Bear Pennsylvannia, Judith known (only to her best childhood friend and protector Joe) as Jo, returns to her childhood home upon the death of her Grandmother (Gramma). Always perceiving herself as an outsider, Judith has set herself a week to wind up her grandmother's estate (several properties, including a farm) and get back to her real life. What follows is a tightly-written exposé of that week, as Judith learns about and begins to understand some fundamental (yet hitherto hidden) truths about her life. Determined not to cede control, Judith nevertheless finds herself spinning rapidly out of kilter. No one is entirely who they say they are, and nothing entirely as it seems. Beautifully written and evocative, Ms Weiner Gotta has managed to capture the claustrophobia of small town existence, yet counterpointed its introspection with faith, support and community. This is an exemplary, multi-layered piece, cutting as it does across the fallacies of perception. There are none so blind, said John Heyward, in 1546, as those who will not see. This novel explores, with a light but tempered touch, the questions of prejudice, self-delusion and discrimination - exposing to the reader the choices inherent in all our belief systems. Who amongst us, I asked myself upon completing this work, ever really understands the motivations and innermost thoughts of those around us, including ourselves. How simple it is to allow our realities to colour and be coloured by perceptions. In this novel, there are no certainties. Religion, colour, status, love, honour, sacrifice, purification and reality are all tested, and found to be wanting. It is the differences we seek to wedge between us as people, as well as the fear and hate manifested by our own uncertainties that determines our path, and the faces we show to others. I really enjoyed this novel. Couldn't put it down. I think the last couple of chapters are a little too 'pat' for my liking - the epiphany is a little too convenient and convincing to be completely believable. However, I would recommend reading this novel to everyone. On the whole, a good, solid, interesting, if not somewhat densely-packed read. Enjoy it. I did.
Recommends This Book