THE BOOK OF JOE B: A Love Story is a contemporary retelling of the Biblical Book of Job, complete with fire, pestilence, and an exploration of the question, “why do the righteous suffer?”
Nice-guy Joe B encounters an over-the-top series of mishaps and disasters that upend his previously steady, low-key life. His loyal friends Eli, Bill, and Zoe support him through all the tribulations while agreeing that sweet Joe B doesn’t deserve such a fate. The four meet up at a bar for a pivotal conversation about the meaning of life and why bad things happen to good people. Joe B comes to important realizations about the way he relates to people and situations in his life, and he ends up in a spot he could not have predicted.
Michael Winn’s Biblical update is a delightful read. His updates to the original plot are clever and fresh, managing to touch on all the main points of the Bible story while placing the action in present-day. The bad luck that visits Joe B has an over-the-top quality that winks at its improbability even while fitting seamlessly into the narrative. It’s a testament to Winn’s skill that even events of literally Biblical proportions, including a tornado and bug infestation, have touches of humor, often stemming from the fairly nonchalant ways Joe B reacts to them.
There’s a sexual harassment thread that reads a bit tone-deaf in today’s climate, and a dialogue-heavy scene about the meaning of life veers too much into the anachronistic Biblical language the rest of the book avoids. There are some laugh-out-loud moments in this story (watch for the funny confusion surrounding the phrase “I’m seeing a doctor”), and Joe B and his friends and family are an appealing, relatable bunch.
Michael Winn’s THE BOOK OF JOE B: A LOVE STORY is an enjoyable retelling of the Book of Job with an impressively light-hearted touch. This is a contemplative read that will inspire discussion, self-reflection, and maybe even a deepening of one’s faith.
~Ruth Beach for IndieReader