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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
No Good is an historical Southern fiction novel written by John Hope. Johnny's twelve now, and he had long ago given up on the idea of a little brother. When he was an infant, his mom and dad had been in a car accident which left his dad with a limp and his mom with insides that couldn't bear any more children. So they were stuck with him, and his nickname, No Good, confirmed his feelings that he was somewhat superfluous to things, especially in his own family. No Good was floored one evening when Tommy J, the kid who had no family to speak of and lived with everyone in the small town of Sanford, let him in on the surprise his mom and dad had for him later that night. With little fanfare and less comprehension at all what the change might have meant to No Good, he was being presented with a brother, a fully grown brother who would be sharing not only his room, but his bed as well. His new brother's name was Josh; he was smallish and about the skinniest and hungriest kid No Good had ever seen.
John Hope's Southern fiction coming of age tale, No Good, transports the reader into Sanford, Florida, a sleepy little town where everyone knew each other, in the 1940s. He does so in this compelling and unforgettable tale about Johnny No Good, a twelve-year-old whose life and world would be forever changed when his orphaned brother Josh comes to stay. I especially loved those scenes where the neighborhood kids go exploring in the marshes and the interactions No Good and Josh have with the elderly African American man who lives on his own in the wild. Hope adroitly captures that twilight time between childhood and maturity as No Good and Josh form tenuous bonds and begin to explore each other’s world views. I was captivated by this book. It's beautifully written, powerful and intense, and the characters I found within its pages are raw, strong, and very very human. No Good is most highly recommended.