Book Review : When I Was Joe by Keren David


When I Was Joe
When I Was Joe by Keren David

Product Details
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books; First Trade Paper Edition edition (April 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847801005
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847801005
Available at Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound

When Ty witnesses a stabbing, his own life is in danger from the criminals he's named, and he and his mum have to go into police protection. Ty has a new name, a new look and a cool new image -- life as Joe is good, especially when he gets talent spotted as a potential athletics star, special training from an attractive local celebrity and a lot of female attention. But his mum can't cope with her new life, and the gangsters will stop at nothing to flush them from hiding. Joe's cracking under extreme pressure, and then he meets a girl with dark secrets of her own.

I started reading this book without high hopes. It is not as popular as some other young adult novels. However, this book managed to give me a surprise. I never thought it would be so good. It shows us how crimes can change the lives of people, and how alarming the crime rates in specific parts of London are.

Ty, an average 14-year-old teenager, witnessed a terrifying murder, and he made a statement to the police. When his house underwent a petrol-bomb attack, he was put under the witness protection program. He was given a new identity, new birthday, new school and a new place to stay. Now, he is known as Joe. Life as Joe is unexpectedly good, and he wishes to remain that way. But with the gangsters tracking his whereabouts and preparing to silence him before the trial, can he stay as Joe forever?

Ty / Joe is a realistic character. He easily brings me into his mind, immersing me in his thoughts and feeling his fear. I can feel his guilty and pain of leaving his loved ones behind, unprotected. I can fathom his awkwardness of being in a new place, knowing not a soul and feeling lonely as ever. He cares about his mother, Nicki, but he's sometimes aggravated by her inert behaviour. Nicki seems to be having difficulties of acknowledging her new life. She is forlorn and miserable. Sometimes she feels like a teenager rather than a mother of one.

Joe's best friend is a girl named Claire. Mousey, shy, timid Claire. She is often overlooked, because she easily blends with the background. She wants to stay invisible, if possible. She, too, has a terrible secret. When Joe discovers her dark little secret, she warns him to keep it safe from others. Joe promises her, and tells her his secret in exchange.

Keren David has convinced me of her abilities and talent with her debut, When I Was Joe. This book is thrilling, action-packed and harrowing, finished with a suitable dose of humour. You will absolutely love it!

Rating: 4.500

Note: This book has some kissing scenes - nothing serious. Recommended to teenagers and adults alike.

I'd like to thank Becky from The Bookette for sending me a paperback copy of When I was Joe! I won this book on her blog.

Image of Keren David
Growing up in a small town just outside London, Keren David had two ambitions: to write a book and to live in the big city. Several decades on, she has finally achieved both. She was distracted by journalism, starting out at 18 as a messenger girl, then working as a reporter, news editor, features editor and feature writer for national newspapers and magazines. Along the way she lived in Glasgow and Amsterdam, where in eight years she learned enough Dutch to order coffee and buy fruit and vegetables.

1 creative remarks:

Melanie said...

I was surprised by this book, too. The premise was intriguing, but I didn't expect much at first. I really enjoyed, it, though, and I've been starting to see it pop up more in other book recs. I think it's just taking a bit longer to gain popularity in the US.