ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – Joe Nuthin’s Guide to Life by Helen Fisher

Joe Nuthin’s Guide to Life by Helen Fisher is published by Simon & Schuster and is available now in hardcover, eBook and audiobook. My thanks to Becky Hunter for the proof copy.

Joe loves predictability. But his life is about to become a surprising adventure.

Joe-Nathan likes the two parts of his name separate, just like his dinner and dessert. Mean Charlie at work sometimes calls him Joe-Nuthin. But Joe is far from nothing. Joe is a good friend, he’s good at his job, good at making things and good at following the rules, and he’s learning how to do lots of things by himself.

Joe’s mother knows there are a million things in life he isn’t prepared for. While she helps guide him every day, she’s also writing notebooks full of advice about the things she hasn’t told Joe yet, things he might forget and answers to questions he hasn’t yet asked.

Following her wisdom – applying it in his own unique way – this next part of Joe’s life is more of a surprise than he expects. Because he’s about to learn that remarkable things can happen when you leave your comfort zone, and that you can do even the hardest things with a little help from your friends.

Joe Nuthin’s Guide to Life has to be this year’s most life-affirming book. I thought it was heart-warming and a complete delight to read.

Joe-Nathan likes what he knows and knows what he likes. He lives with his mum, watches Friends every evening, works at The Compass Store putting the go-backs back on the shelves, and likes his routine. If something isn’t quite right, a wonky calendar, a tin with the label the wrong way round, it makes him sweat and feel very uncomfortable. Unexpected events beyond his control and him trying to do the right thing in challenging situations leave him feeling unsettled. Referring to the yellow book of life advice from his mum, Joe-Nathan steps right out of his comfort zone.

I loved Joe-Nathan. He’s an utterly adorable character. He takes everything literally which causes a bit of eye-rolling amongst his friends and colleagues, but he’s got a beautiful soul and his behaviour made me feel all warm and fuzzy. He struggles with Mean-Charlie at work who calls him Joe-Nuthin but he has made a new friend in Chloe, who sticks up for him.

Everything about this book is lovely. The characters are perfect, flawed but likeable, and there’s empathy in Helen Fisher’s writing which invites the reader into Joe-Nathan’s life and makes them never want to leave. This is a story about friendship and what it really means, and how to be a good friend when it’s really difficult to do so. The balance of humour and seriousness is perfectly executed and this is an all-round beautiful book that was a joy from start to finish.

Helen Fisher spent her early life in America but grew up mainly in Suffolk, where she now lives with her two children. She studied psychology at Westminster University and ergonomics at UCL, and worked as a senior evaluator in research at RNIB. She is the author of Space Hopper and Joe Nuthin’s Guide to Life. Follow her on instagram @helenfisher_author

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