His Name Is Josiah
by Jose Flores

"He wanted to end poverty, he wanted to give back to his parents—he wanted to make a difference."

Josiah’s story begins in South Texas where he lives in poverty with his parents, one sister, and five brothers. They live in an abandoned bus on land that they own, but they have no running water and no electricity for much of Josiah’s childhood. Against these struggles and deprivations, Josiah perseveres to excel in school with his intelligence and commitment to better himself and his family. Many of the traits he exhibits in childhood are the same traits that will shape the experiences he has as an adult and will inspire the choices he makes as an enlisted marine. As a child, he never backs down from a challenge and always protects and defends his brothers.

Josiah’s success in high school leads to a college scholarship to Texas State, but before graduation, he meets a recruiter at his high school who sees potential and pursues him to enlist as a Marine. Josiah is convinced that the Marines can provide him with financial security and a path to college. After boot camp, he is stationed in Japan and eventually begins combat duty in Iraq. All the while, his love life is a consistent disappointment, full of betrayal and heartache. His finances are also a mystery and are questioned by his family who mistrusts the secretive loans he has secured from the bank using the family land as collateral.

The uncertainty of Josiah’s fate is felt throughout the book as his brother narrates the story from childhood to his last tour of duty. Flores builds suspense as Josiah’s life progresses through poignant milestones, epic highs, and tragic lows. The South Texas, small-town setting and the descriptions of poverty and striving for upward mobility are important elements of the story, and Flores develops these themes effectively.

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