Electronic Press Kit
ABOUT THE BOOK
Do you believe in ghosts? Joseph Barnett didn’t give much thought to the departed 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 give new meaning to the term “graveyard shift.” When he learned that the eighty-five-year-old school had been constructed near a cemetery, the news barely registered; but then, walking the dim halls alone at night, listening to the wind outside and the sounds of the building settling, Joe was forced to confront his darkest fears.
The child of an alcoholic mother and a distant dad, Joe was haunted in more ways than one. He had coped with a boyhood of dread and broken promises by hiding and running away. When his own marriage failed, Joe was devastated, but he sought and won custody of his two small sons. His sudden new role excited and scared Joe. He had left his marriage almost empty-handed. Could he give his sons a real home?
Now, fired from his job as a supervisor in a food plant, the single dad was thrilled to be working again. It was the middle of winter, bills were due, and money was tight after the holidays. “I wasn’t convinced I wanted to be a custodian,” he said, “but I would have pushed a peanut down the railroad track with my nose to be employed and have medical insurance.”
Joe soon realized that his new job would provide a chance to create a clean and safe place for children, and he was determined to make a positive difference for students and teachers. What he didn’t realize was the downside: strange events that would turn his enthusiasm to terror. Mr. Joe is the story of Joseph’s challenges, triumphs, the illness that nearly finished him, and the unexpected second career that put his beliefs in ghosts and himself to the test.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Joseph Barnett grew up in Glen Ferris, a small town in the mountains of West Virginia. He attended West Virginia University and in 1970 settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he married, had a family, and then became a single parent. Joe put his children above everything else, but his quest for a normal home presented one struggle after another until he found something to believe in. His journey from fear to confidence took a lifetime. It will inspire you.
Jane Barnett Congdon, Joseph’s sister, shared his early background in Glen Ferris. She went on to graduate from Concord University, Athens, West Virginia, and make a career of words, first as an English teacher and later as a newspaper reporter and a textbook editor. Jane is the author of the memoir It Started with Dracula: The Count, My Mother, and Me (2011, Bettie Youngs Books).
"There are no lucky breaks, no sudden miracles here, but there is redemption. Love and perseverance can win. Read Mr. Joe!” —Jack Rogers, Executive Director (retired), West Virginia Public Defender Services
“The Fabulous Book Babes will definitely read Mr. Joe as a selection. After meeting Joseph in It Started with Dracula: The Count, My Mother, and Me, our book club is intrigued and eager to read about his remarkable life experiences. We already know the prose will sparkle.” —Fabulous Book Babes, Mason, Ohio
“Enticing and easy to follow, Mr. Joe is an emotional roller-coaster ride with laugh-out-loud moments occurring in the midst of struggle and sadness. I found myself doing some soul-searching, too, as I read about Joe’s life-changing moments.”—Debbie Sebastian, Cincinnati
“This well-crafted memoir will be a gift to you. Mr. Joe tells a powerful story of personal enlightenment and transformation. Its theme of haunting proves irresistible as we follow Joseph through the halls of empty school buildings and the corridors of memory to confront his ghosts. I appreciated that Joe beat unbelievable odds to recover from a lifetime of disappointments, including an illness that left him with total muscular atrophy on his right side. As his personal trainer, I have seen the same determination and positive mindset that enabled him to live with an alcoholic, succeed as a single dad, and become a beloved school custodian.”—Anita Phillips, life coach and fitness trainer
“This is truly inspirational work, a very special book—a gift to any reader.” —Diane Bruno, CISION Media