This novel was originally released in the UK in 2016 with the title, THE BUBBLE BOY. Now it has arrived in North America with a new cover and title. The story remains the same and picks up on a familiar plot line we’ve seen in popular media about a child or teen confined to an enclosed space due to their immune system unable to keep out germs.
Here we have Joe, eleven years old and trapped in a London hospital room, shut off from the rest of the world for almost longer than he can remember. His parents are dead and his sole outlet for family is an older sister who is pursuing medical school. He knows an early death is likely for someone in his condition. How’s that for a cheery plot line? Not much.
Joe can see out his window and watch what goes on across the street and rooftops, including a good view of Heathrow Airport. Henry, his best friend, also has the same health problem, but lives far away in his own bubble in Philadelphia. They text and Skype and their conversations are the highlight of Joe’s day.
His sister Beth visits often and there are two male nurses he bonds with, Greg and Amir. Greg is more straight forward with his support, while with Amir you’ll wonder how he got by any security background checks. He’s convinced the aliens are about to land.
Stellar writing and Joe’s character helped me get through to the end of the story. I never like when anyone suffers, kids especially. My worst day won’t seem so awful when I think of Joe and all the other children dealing with the bad cards they’ve been dealt.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2016 (UK) 2017 (U.S.) PAGE COUNT: 352
FULL PLOT (From AMAZON) Eleven-year-old Joe has never had a life outside of the hospital, with its beeping machines and view of London’s rooftops. His condition means he’s not allowed outside, not even for a moment, and his few visitors risk bringing life-threatening germs inside his bubble. Then a new nurse offers Joe the possibility of going outside. But Joe doesn’t know if the nurse is serious—or whether he could survive the adventure.
Bubble is the touching story of how Joe spends his days, copes with his loneliness and frustration, and looks—with superhero-style bravery, curiosity, and hope—to a future without limits.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: BUBBLE by Stewart Foster
- A perfect book to use with a small group with discussions about the themes running through the pages.
- Amir was wacky but just the kind of friend Joe or any kid would gravitate toward. He turned out to be the biggest wish giver of all the characters.
- SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency) is the name of the condition, and I learned much about what doctors and patients have to do to cope as they wait for a cure. No sugarcoating. All out honesty.
- There are some wonderful lessons here about never giving up your dreams. The hero in all of his is waiting to come out.
- Heartbreaking but when you need it the most…uplifting.
…Maybe they think I’m going to die. I think about dying a lot. It’s hard not to when a monitor beeps every time my heart beats. I never, never want the beeps to stop. I might not be able to do much in here or go outside, but I’ve got Beth and I’ve got Greg. I’d miss them and I know they’d miss me. I’d rather live all my life in a bubble than die. It’s cool to even be born. That’s what me and Henry say.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from GOODREADS):
Stewart Foster lives in Bath and wishes he’d never left school. So he went back to university far too many years later and he wrote a book, We used to be Kings, and then he wrote another, The Bubble Boy, that won Sainsbury’s book of the year 2016 (10+) and The Trinity Schools Book Award 2017.
His next book ‘All the things that could go wrong” will be published 28/06/2017
Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.
Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.