Wednesday 6 January 2010

When I Was Joe - Keren David

When I Was Joe - Keren David

Pages: 364
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Release Date: 7th January 2010

It’s one thing watching someone get killed.
It’s quite another talking about it.

But Ty does talk about it. He names some ruthless people and a petrol-bomb attack forces him and his mum into hiding under police protection.

Shy loser Ty gets a new name, a new look and a cool new image. Life as Joe is good. But the gangsters will stop at nothing to silence him. And then he meets a girl with a dangerous secret of her own.

A completely irresistible thriller by an exciting new writer.

Keren David’s thrilling debut novel, When I Was Joe, far surpassed my expectations. I loved it.

Ty/Joe has an engaging voice that pulls you into the depths of his story and instantly made me like and sympathise with him, even though I knew he wasn’t telling me everything. One of the most individual aspects of Ty’s character was how when he felt scared or intimated his speech slipped from normal English to East London gangster slang. It would probably make readers who aren’t familiar with how it sounds laugh, but this transition really highlighted how different the life Ty lived in London was. I actually would have liked to have seen a bit more of his previous life, actually.

The cast of supporting characters are just as vibrant and life-like as Ty is. Sisters Ellie and Claire are such opposites that you might no believe they were actually related! Ellie is loud, sporty and bossy, while Claire is shy, quiet and a little dorky, which is in fact likely to be the case for lots of sisters. Ashley is the type of girl who gives teen girls a bad name and I really hated her. I’m actually quite surprised at how strongly! Part way through When I Was Joe, I began to think that I’d judged her too harshly and that there was something more under the surface. I was wrong: she’s mean, manipulative and a bully.

But fantastic characters aside, my favourite aspect of When I Was Joe is all of the mysteries and unanswered questions. What really happened that night? What’s Claire hiding? Who planted the petrol bomb? Who’s trying to kill Ty and his Mum? Luckily, all of these questions were
answered by the end of the novel and I can’t remember any strings left untied, while enough was left hanging for me to be anxious to read the sequel.

Keren David has written an action-packed and suspense-filled novel that remains gritty and real. Ty’s story continues in Almost True later this year.



  1. I loved this book too. It really moved me and answered so many of my questions about how our teens get involved in knife crime. Great review.

  2. Great review. I read the review of Becky also and this book sounds very good and interesting.

  3. I loved it too! I can't wait for the sequel.

    Oh, and the cover is brilliant!

  4. I loved this too and still need to write my review. (Soon, soon, I promise myself!!) It's so interesting to read your thoughts - thanks for the great review. I actually ended up unsure about Ashley, and a bit sorry for her! But I do completely see your point.
    Oh, and have you all seen the Almost True cover on Keren David's blog today? It's also great!

  5. wow, this looks intense! I normally wouldn't pick up something like this, but great review ;)

  6. Wonderful review! This one's way out of my comfort zone, but it sounds like something I need to read.

  7. Love the review and the cover. Very eye catching.

  8. Sounds great, and a sequel to look forward to? What could be better!

  9. This sounds terrific! I love the way you described the character development.

  10. Very Nice Review, looks like a very interesting book ;)

    BTW, you have an award in our blog :)


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