Eleven-year-old Joe Grant, who has never felt rain or sunshine, often wishes “my real world was as big as the one in my head.” As the only person in England with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), Joe was born without an immune system and has spent most of his life in a “bubble,” a specially designed hospital room in London. In his first novel for children, author Stewart Foster offers a glimpse of the highs and lows of this difficult yet remarkable life.
Joe tells his own story, countering fatigue, fear of getting sick, endless therapies, isolation and even occasional thoughts of death with dreams of being a superhero. Like most boys his age, he enjoys sports and video games, and like anyone, he craves friendship. Joe looks forward to visits from his older sister and Skypes with Henry, a boy in Philadelphia who also has SCID. But the predictability of Joe’s world is shaken when Henry, thanks to a suit designed by NASA, has the chance to walk outside. Joe begins to wonder if his new daytime nurse, an Indian immigrant named Amir, could assist with a similar adventure.
Readers, particularly fans of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder, will admire Joe’s strength, courage and hope. His tender story reaffirms humanity.