Friday, 1 May 2015

Joe All Alone, Joanna Nadin

Pages: 233
Publisher: Little, Brown
Release Date: 7th May 2015
Edition: UK proof, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: the Rachel Riley series, the Penny Dreadful series, Wonderland and many more!

No parents, no rules… no problem?

When 13-year-old Joe is left behind in Peckham while his mum flies to Spain on holiday, he decides to treat it as an adventure, and a welcome break from Dean, her latest boyfriend. Joe begins to explore his neighbourhood, making a tentative friendship with Asha, a fellow fugitive hiding out at her grandfather’s flat.

But then the food and money run out, his mum doesn’t come home, and the local thugs catch up with him. Joe realises time is running out too, and makes a decision that Will change his life forever.

Joe All Alone was my first of Joanna Nadin’s books and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Joe’s narration is so personable and easy to read that I whizzed through it in about two hours! He’s a sweet, awkward boy who’s fumbling his way into being a teenager without the advantages of a supportive, loving family and a group of friends that have his back and I really felt for him. Joe’s mum isn’t horrible at all and she isn’t completely neglectful; Joe says that it wasn’t like this before Dean, and that’s a really interesting thread in the story. How severely a person can be influenced by someone in their lives and completely turn their personality around – their character isn’t good or bad, this way or that – is something that isn’t often discussed in early teen novels.

Joanna Nadin set up some really interesting conversations for younger readers both with Joe’s mum and Dean’s attitude. It is made clear by Joe throughout the novel that making friends with Asha is a risk for him because Asha is black and Dean is racist. With issues of race, social situation and education in run-down areas of south-east London and crime, Joe All Alone is an important book that I sincerely hope makes its way into libraries.

Joe doesn’t get a traditional, cheesy happy ending, but he I think he the right one: the life-affirming one that makes you believe in the right things. Definitely give this one a go!

Thanks to Little, Brown for the review copy!


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