Friday, November 05, 2010

REVIEW: When I Was Joe by Keren David

When I Was Joe
Author: Keren David
Pages: 384
Publisher: Frances Lincoln
Publication Date: 7th January 2010

From Amazon
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. This wonderfully gripping and intelligent novel depicts Ty/Joe's confused sense of identity in a moving and funny story that teenage boys and girls will identify with - a remarkable debut from a great new writing talent.

I finished this book on Wednesday night, which means that this is officially the fastest I have ever written a review and got it up on the blog. When I Was Joe was another book I nearly cried at, had to blink lots of times to stop myself.

When I Was Joe is about Ty, a teenage boy who has been forced to lie about everything that happened the day he witnessed the stabbing of another boy his age. Now, Ty and his mum have been placed in the witness protection programme and have been given totally new identities and have been moved to another city.

Ty's new personality as Joe is different from his old one. Wheras Ty was uncool and wimpy, Joe is a born leader, with girls falling at his feet, and boys who want to be him; a very big contrast to Ty. But Joe's life isn't all that perfect, there's a boy at school who's after him, as well as the druggie maniacs who are linked to the murder who are trying to silence him. Yeah. Joe's life isn't all it turns out to be.

Ty was actually quite a funny, deep boy with a great voice. I was so scared for him at times..but he had to go through wasn't something you'd wish upon anybody. Fortunately he had some people to help him get through it all - I really liked sisters Claire and Ellie. It made me laugh how different they were! Ellie is loud and sporty, despite being paraplegic, and Claire is reserved and extremely shy. 
I think Claire's 'problem' added even more depth to the story, I was glad that she had Ty to help her with her issues, they were both there for each other, even if they got off to a rocky, confusing start. 

The story was completely action-packed, and I loved that about it. There were constant twist and turns and things you weren't even expecting at all. It is a really thought-provoking, novel. The end was totally gripping. There was also a sneak peek at the sequel, Almost True (which is already out now, but wasn't at the time), which I really NEED. I know something is going to happen. I just know it. I really need that book.
I think one of my favourite elements about the story is how David has managed to thread in humour and great dialogue to make it a bit more light-hearted, but not so much that you see the while book in a different way. I can't help but quote one of my favourite sentences from the whole book: " 'Yeah,' I say and she says, 'You know Ty, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger,' which is pretty amazing because I would have though that Maurenen'd be way too old to had even heard of Kanye West."


I really liked how David has written something that highlights knife crime and how it is affecting us in the UK and other places. It's an issue that's always around us but nobody ever really thinks that much of how serious it is. I love how the novel outlines how something as simple as watching a knife crime going on can turn somebody's life upside down completely in a matter of seconds. It doesn't even seem like such a complicated situation at first, just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There's lots of talk about identity and the subject of our own identities. What makes up one? Can changing your eye/hair colour and name like Ty does make you into a different person? Or is it more than what meets the eye?

Wow. David has done a totally incredible job on this book. The charcters are well-developed, and so is the plot and just about everything else as well. To be really frank, I thought When I Was Joe was bloody awe-inspiring. Thrilling, gripping and highly entertaining. I think everybody should read this. Also, I loved how British the language was Couldn't not mention that part ;)



  1. I love this book, glad you did yoo :D
    Haha- I love the quote, and yes, the book is bloody awe-inspiring ;) xx

  2. I really want to read this one. Great review!

  3. well your Po$t is good and i really like it :). . .awesome WORK . . .KEEP SHARING. .;)
    book review help


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