Joshua’s Song by Joan Hiatt Harlow takes place in Boston in 1919. There is an influenza epidemic and many are dying. Sadly, one of those to die of the flu is Josh’s dad. This leaves thirteen year old Josh and his mom to fend for themselves. Left with a lot of debt and many bills they can no longer continue to live the life that they are accustomed to. Josh has to give up going to school and start working and his mom has to take in borders to help pay the bills. To make matters worse, his mom doesn’t want any of their friends to find out Josh is working. When Josh has an encounter with Charlestown Charlie, a paperboy, he becomes involved with the newspaper business. Selling papers on the street is something that Josh has a talent for, but it is hard when he has to give half of his pay to Charlie at the end of each day. Suddenly, tragedy strikes and lives are changed all over Boston. I don’t want to give away the ending, but it is about a part of history I had never heard of!
I would definitely recommend this book to fourth- seventh graders. This book was a quick and interesting read. I like the historical aspects to it and I learned about things I didn’t know about before. Josh is easy to relate to and you can’t help but hope for the best for him. I especially like the fact that the book ends with historical notes. It explains all the parts of the book that are facts and how they were woven into fiction. This book really makes history come to life!
Has anyone else read Joshua’s Song? Or another book by Joan Hiatt Harlow?