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Review: When I Was Joe by Keren David

What is it?

When I Was Joe by Keren David

When I Was JoeFirst published 2010

A contemporary, young adult, crime thriller, coming of age novel.

Why should I read it?

Because it’s a well-crafted story that blends a crime mystery with a gut-wrenching account of kids trying to fit in.

I picked When I Was Joe up at my local library because the blurb on the back sounded good and the first page backed it up. “It’s one thing watching someone get killed. It’s quite another talking about it.”

This is the story of Ty, who witnesses a murder and has to go into hiding. He becomes Joe, who is so much cooler than Ty ever was.

When I started reading it, I realised that Ty is only 14. I was worried the book would read a bit “young” and not live up to the gritty hype the blurb promised. I was happy to be wrong.

Keren David is a fantastic writer, and captures the character of Ty perfectly. He’s harbouring a secret, and trying to lay low at his new school, and struggling to cope with the fact the bad guys want him dead. And then he meets a girl, who has a secret of her own. But how can he even think about starting a relationship when she doesn’t even know his real name?

Then things go from bad to worse. Ty is left trying to hold it all together, and desperate to do the right thing before he has to leave town and change his name again.

When I Was Joe is a gripping story that touches on some very serious issues. The subject matter makes it more suited for teens 13 and over.

Keren David has written two more books in the same series, Almost True and Another Life. You can find out more about her, and what else she’s written, at kerendavid.com