When I Was Joe by Keren David
Review by Lauren
copy sent for review, but all opinions are my own
Official Summary: 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.
Review: I’d heard of this book for awhile now, but I was never able to check it out. Fortunately, I was offered the chance to check out When I Was Joe as well as the other two books in this fast-paced, exciting trilogy!
Ty is the witness to a stabbling that kills a young man. Encouraged by his Gran, Ty and his mom (who he mostly calls Nicki) go to the police. Ty and Nicki are placed into Witness Protection, which is difficult for a variety of reasons. Before, Ty’s Gran was more of a mom to him than Nicki, but now they only have each other and a couple members of the police force whose job it is to keep them safe.
Ty soon realizes, though, that getting a new chance to start all over isn’t a bad idea. He doesn’t have to live under the shadow of his best friend, Arron, who he is keeping a secret about through most of the story. Ty is turned into Joe, a teen that the girls love, the boys are either jealous of or want to be, and he even finds a true talent in running. Through running, Ty meets Ellie who believes he can go far if he just focuses, but keeping out of trouble is not something Ty is great at. He gets in fights, starts going out with a girl that terrorizes Ellie’s little sister, Claire, and eventually begins to see Claire as a best friend…but what happens if he can’t keep her secret?
I know this is mostly a long-winded summary, but I wanted to talk about the various layers in this novel for those of you who haven’t read it yet. Despite the seemingly long page length, When I Was Joe actually moves really quickly and I could see both guys and girls loving this one! It’s actually something I could see making a good film too because it includes a lot of action, some familial issues, a touch of romance, and the simple art of growing up and learning just what type of person you want to be. This last part is particularly relevant for Ty, since he’s being forced to lie about his real life…but through that, he comes to terms with the types of things he does and does not like about himself. That doesn’t mean he completely changes. He is a teen boy after all, but despite that, he’s quite self-aware…and it makes this story even better! As you can see, I’m a big fan of Ty, and I hope you will be too if you check this out.
I love contemporary novels…novels narrated by boys…and novels that take place in countries other than America. When I Was Joe has all of this! By the way, this book takes place in England, in case you were wondering, which is even better for me since I love British English.