For Ages: 12 - 99
  • 1
Fourteen-year-old Joseph Flood is the victim of his mother Betty's addictions to crack and alcohol. An African American boy living in a North Carolina ghetto neighborhood, Joseph has little chance for survival if his soldier father doesn't come home soon from Iraq to sort out the mess into which Betty has gotten herself and their son. Living in a shelter and being bussed to yet another new school, Joseph's life looks like it's hitting bottom. He's afraid to leave his mother, but he knows he needs to find his own path before it's too late.
  • Margaret K. McElderry Books | 
  • 208 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416994428 | 
  • March 2010 | 
  • Grades 7 and up | 
  • Lexile ® 770
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Reading Group Guide

Pre-Reading Activities & Research
1. Joseph Flood's mother is a drug and alcohol addict, and her addictions cause her to act in desperate and dangerous ways. Using an encyclopedia or a medical resource, research cocaine and alcohol. Specifically, what does each substance do to the human body, including the brain? What happens when people become addicted? Why are certain people susceptible to addiction? What are the warning signs? How do people overcome addictions?
2. Research homeless youths in America: How many are there? How do children and teenagers become homeless? Do they have certain factors in common, such as that they are members of a single-parent family or that one of their parents is addicted to drugs or alcohol or is mentally ill? Are there large numbers of homeless people in your area? What organizations or charities exist to help them?
Discussion Topics
1. Joseph Flood tells his own story in Joseph; in novel writing, this is called a first-person narrative. Would the book have been different if another character told Joseph's story? Do you prefer hearing a main character express his or her views directly, or do you like when a third-person narrator describes them?
2. Joseph's mother's serious drug problem has forced her to enter a rehabilitation center many times. Do you know anyone who has been through rehab? What do you think happens there? Why do you think some people become addicted to drugs or alcohol?
3. "I hate see more

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About the Author

Shelia P. Moses
Photo Credit:

Shelia P. Moses

Poet, author, playwright, and producer Shelia P. Moses was raised the ninth of ten children on Rehobeth Road in Rich Square, North Carolina. She is the coauthor of Dick Gregory’s memoir, Callus on My Soul, as well as the award-winning author of several books for young readers: The Legend of Buddy Bush; The Return of Buddy BushI, Dred Scott: A Fictional Slave Narrative Based on the Life and Legal Precedent of Dred Scott; and The Baptism. Shelia lives in Atlanta, Georgia.