Review: Mr. Joe: Tales from a Haunted Life by Joseph Barnett & Jane Congdon (review)

Mr. Joe: Tales from a Haunted Life
written by Joseph Barnett & Jane Congdon
published by Bettie Youngs Book Publishers

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I was asked by the author to review this book. Plus, the tagline intrigued me; I wanted to know more. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book: 
I sure did! The writing is easily accessible, the storytelling is delightful, and Mr. Joe is not just affable – he’s a guy I’d like to hang out with some time.

I’ll admit I expected to be inundated with spooky ghost stories, but in the end I found Mr. Joe’s experiences with the supernatural to be the least intriguing part of his story.  Ultimately, he’s just a cool guy I’d like to get to know.  I mean, honestly, who wouldn’t want to chat with someone who’s worked as a clothier, a meat packer, a real estate agent AND a custodian? The man sure has some great stories!  Barnett proves – without really meaning to, perhaps – that an interesting tale has less to do with the supernatural and more to do with simple human experience.  Add to the career changes some troubled family dynamics, and BAM.  Instant awesome.

Everyone has a story to tell, and Mr. Joe tells his with quiet strength, even if he didn’t do the typing.  Jane Congdon captures Barnett’s lilt perfectly; I can picture the two of them – Barnett pacing around the room muttering, Congdon interpreting as she types away… Mr. Joe leaves a lot unsaid, and his sister fills in the gaps.  Well done.


Would I recommend it: Yep!  Even if you don’t believe in the supernatural, Mr. Joe’s story will hit you right in the feels. If I had the guy’s address, I’d send him a beer.

Will I read it again: Nah.  I’d rather just chill with Mr. Joe for an afternoon.

About the book – from Goodreads: 
Do you believe in ghosts? Joseph Barnett didn’t until he became a school custodian in a midlife career change. Joe had no idea that his first assignment, working nights in a kindergarten school would force him to confront his darkest fears. “Ghosts are part of my story,” says Joe. “I believe in them; I have no choice. After you’ve seen one ghost, you believe. I know what I saw and heard. Here’s something else I know: there are many ways to be haunted, and not all of my ghosts were dead. That’s the other part of my story. I grew up with an alcoholic mother and it was later in life and took almost becoming a ghost myself for me to see my life differently. I believe in ghosts, and finally, I believe in myself. But back when this all started, I was just a guy trying to make a living.”

About the authors:

Joseph Barnett – Joe grew up in Glen Ferris, West Virginia. He attended West Virginia University and in 1970 settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. Joseph retired in 2010 from the suburban school district where he had been a custodian for fourteen years. Mr. Joe is his first book.

Jane Congdon – She lives in the Cincinnati area. After retiring from a thirty-year publishing career, she wrote her first book.  It Started with Dracula: The Count, My Mother, and Me, published in 2011 by Bettie Youngs Books.