Joe's Adventures

Fun on the River

Fiction - Historical - Personage
146 Pages
Reviewed on 03/04/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

Joe's Adventures: Fun on the River by Joseph Dougherty is the story of the author’s youth as he learned to navigate life and tried to find his happiness in the smallest of things. Joe shares some very precious memories of his childhood with readers, starting with a summer when he and his cousin Harold were planning a fishing trip. Living in Florida was fun as long as he had his friends and cousin around him. With very few sources of entertainment, they had to be creative about how to spend the summer and actually have fun. So they decided to make a boat, gathering their supplies. Somehow fishing turns into alligator hunting. They hadn’t told their moms that they were going on a big adventure that might turn out to be more rewarding than they anticipated.

Joe's Adventures: Fun on the River by Joseph Dougherty is a lighthearted, fun and mischievous story of what friends and cousins get up to when they get together. We say boys will be boys, but Harold and Joe get into a world of trouble that even amazed me. The author tells the story of his childhood in a very refreshing manner, he shares pictures and secrets that will make anyone feel nostalgic. He paces his story incredibly well; he introduces new characters at just the right point and overall makes sure that the reader is invested in the story as it goes on. The narrative is smooth yet very nostalgic, the dialogues are imaginative and fun and the overall pace of the story is fast enough to keep it moving but not rushed so that the story loses its meaning. I think this is one of those universal books that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and genders. Entertainment for all!

Grant Leishman

Joe's Adventures: Fun on the River by Joseph Dougherty takes us back to a quieter, gentler, more peaceful time. It is 1947 in Ormond Beach, Florida and young Joe, his best friend Harold, and cousin Susan are enjoying the summer break the way it should be – lazing around, swimming, fishing and getting into exciting adventures. When the boys decide to build a raft and travel up and down the river, fishing and searching for snakes and other creatures to sell at a wildlife reserve, Susan begs the boys to include her in their fun. Joe’s not so keen on a girl joining them but Harold assures him she will be a fine addition to their crew and will pull her weight. The trio embarks on a series of adventures that will be exciting, fun and just a little bit dangerous, from time to time.

Doubtless aimed at an age-group of around 8-14, this outdoor adventure was reminiscent of the “Boy’s Own” stories I read myself, as a child. Joe’s Adventures: Fun on the River conjured up, for me, a nostalgic vein as I recalled my own adventures as a young boy growing up in the ’60s. This was still a time when children could be left alone to their own devices to make their own fun, without the assistance of electronic devices or parental guidance. I felt author Joseph Dougherty struck a realistic note in his portrayal of the times, the attitudes, the social mores, and the sense of adventure amongst young children that needed to be acted upon and explored. Some of the situations the trio got themselves into were harrowing and scary but there was always a sense that some divine providence was looking after them and ensuring they would be all right. Perhaps we all look back at our childhoods with rose-colored glasses but I’m not convinced that is a bad thing. As an exciting book for younger readers and a gentle reminiscence for us oldies, it was a truly satisfying read. The simple, delightful drawings that accompanied the text were just an added bonus to a well-told story.

K.C. Finn

Joe’s Adventures: Fun on the River is a work of semi-autobiographical fiction aimed at all ages and written by Joseph Dougherty. The book is a collection of stories based on the author’s life in Florida in the 1940s, following a family fleeing the shadow of an abusive husband and father. Throughout the stories, the author uses their own real-life experiences from their time in Daytona as well as people from their life as the foundation for engaging stories about a carefree childhood spent listening to mystery stories on the radio and playing barefoot outside without the distractions of the modern world.

The childlike narrative style of this work of historical memoir and fiction makes it an interesting read that can span across different generations, teaching younger readers about the austerity of the past, but also its more carefree and natural elements. At the same time, there is a complex layer of nostalgia and hindsight to the work for older readers, who can look back on these tales with some notion of the effects that Joe’s childhood experiences would have had on him as an adult. Author Joseph Dougherty blurs the lines between fiction and reality to create a seamless tale that one can easily be swept away in, with some really authentic narrative and dialogue moments to characterize the period and sense of place that the work is rooted in. Deep and considerate, but also smooth on the surface and easy to read, Joe’s Adventures: Fun on the River is a fascinating trip into the past.

Lesley Jones

In Joe's Adventures: Fun on the River by Joseph Dougherty, it is 1947 and best friends Joe and Harold enjoy another day fishing on the banks of the river in Ormond Beach, Florida. Together they dream of adventure and exploring the wonderful nature around them. They decide to build a boat and spend their days collecting materials and little by little the boat takes shape. They begin to attract attention from the town and everyone wants to join them on their maiden voyage, even the local bullies, the McNasty brothers. Finally, the boat is complete and they name her Frog. Now they can plan their first adventure. They reluctantly allow Joe's cousin, Susan, to join them and Frog is launched into the river. As they look forward to their exciting voyage, little did they realize that they will be sharing the river with the infamous Big Ben, a gigantic and very hungry alligator.

Although it is set in 1947, I feel every child would appreciate this beautifully written adventure story. The characters are wonderful and their actions and dialogue really highlight their personalities perfectly. I loved the relationship between the three main characters, they worked well as a team and were so supportive of one another. In a world filled with electronic gadgets, children no longer use their imaginations and it was wonderful to reminisce those times when children could amuse themselves. The snakes and alligators in the story gave the plot great tension and the final scenes on the river were really engaging. Joe's Adventures by Joseph Dougherty is a perfect adventure story in an era when life was uncomplicated and communities were like extended families.