When I Was Joe by Keren David

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.

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18 thoughts on “When I Was Joe by Keren David

  1. When I was Joe is my favourite book for the simple fact that it was the only one that I couldn’t put down and so read it in under two days. The characters are easy to relate to as they’re just normal people and the story is full of suspense and makes you want to figure out the end before you get to it. This is the book I will be buying this year even if it doesn’t win, but I think it should though!

    I’d give this book a 9/10 as there was room for improvement, granted, but was definitely entertaining to read and my kind of book as it wasn’t too far fetched.

  2. MAN did I love this book!!
    I thought that this storyline wouldn’t appeal to me, but after I’d read the main plot I couldn’t put it down! I lost count of how many times I got into trouble for reading this book in lessons or staying up til 3 in the morning to finish the chapter (or maybe the next one)

    This is definitely my favourite in the collection this year! 😀

  3. I think this was my second favourite because I connected with the characters really well and I thought it never went off story. if you know what i mean. I would definitely read this book again, I found it really enjoyable 😀

  4. ‘When I was Joe’ is a contemporary book that teenagers will love. The book is about Ty who has witnessed a stabbing and is therefore put under the Witness Protection Programme for his own safety to protect him from the youth involved in the stabbing who want to keep him quiet by all means possible. He and his mum are given new identities and Ty seizes life as Joe beginning to enjoy his new identity and meeting new and sometimes dangerous people along the way. You learn the struggle that it must be for people to start all over again, especially from the character of Ty/Joe’s mum who finds this extremely hard.
    This book deals with a very current issue of knife crime, illustrating how dangerous a crime it is and the consequences it can have on peoples’ lives. The reader is made to realise how difficult it would be to drop everything in the life that you have built for yourself and move to a completely different place and start all over again from scratch.
    As I am around the same age as the main character Ty/Joe this made the book even more enjoyable for me. I could sympathise with the problems that he was facing. I think teenagers will especially enjoy this book as it incorporates the stress that teenagers face. ‘When I was Joe’ also highlights how difficult it would be for someone to lie about everything in their life, not being able to tell anyone the truth because it could lead to death. We watch the character Joe grow as a person throughout the book, becoming ever more confident.
    The front cover of this book may make you think that it is more of a boy’s book but do not be put off. It is an appealing book to any gender, no matter what types of books you are normally interested in. The book includes many interesting and captivating characters, adding to the attention grabbing plot. A really good read!

    By Hilary

    I adored “When I was Joe” and wavered at no point from devouring every word! I found that I really cared about the characters, especially Claire whom I loved to watch develop and change over the course of the book. It was easy to believe and sympathize with Joe but towards the end I found something that I have never before seen in a book; I didn’t trust what the character was telling me! He began to reveal things sneakily that had me snapping my frustration at him out loud, much to the alarm of my family who were in the same room!
    I feel no shame in telling you that it was less than twelve hours (i.e. one night) after finishing it that I had the sequel in my grasp!

    By Lucy

    I really enjoyed reading ‘When I Was Joe’ because it was different and exciting. After the first few chapters, I had already gotten into it, and the storyline is so unique. I love how you feel you know the characters so well, yet you don’t know what they are going to do next.
    The book is really gripping and I even really liked how the book is written in the first person, as this makes the book more exciting. You feel as if you are with Ty, on his journey. Every chapter and all of the events are described with excellent detail, and you understand how all of the characters are feeling. There were cliff-hangers at the end of every chapter; I couldn’t put it down!
    I have to admit, I wouldn’t normally read a book like this if I just picked it up, but I am so glad that the Book Award gave me the opportunity to read this book, because it was definitely worth reading. It is nothing like I have ever read before, but I would certainly read it again and I can’t wait to read the sequel! I strongly recommend it to anyone, and although you may not read books like this, like me, it really is amazing!

    By Laura

  5. I thought this book was fantastic with amazing and unexpected twists and turns. This book is not to be missed.

  6. I really like this book, it is the sort of the book I like to read…and I could not even put the book down it was sooooo good…I can’t wait to meet the authors…x

  7. I loved this story. I connected with the characters immediately. I loved the storyline. I would read it again.

  8. Page turning, exciting and pulls on your heartstrings, When I was Joe is one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a long time. Plunged into the life of loser Ty, now popular and cool Joe, the reader follows the ups and downs, secrets and truths of his life. Generally I liked the book and found the characters easy to relate too, I liked how the truth about the crime scene edged its way out throughout the book. Although I appreciate that the book had to be left on a cliff-hanger to prompt readers into buying the sequel, judging this as a standalone book, it didn’t leave me wanting more, it left me annoyed at the fact it finished in mid air.
    By Karina

    ‘When I was Joe’ was a moderately paced book, it wasn’t exactly ‘I was ripping the pages because I was turning them so fast to read on’ but I did always find it slightly hard to put down. The characters were complex but not too hard to figure out – apart from the Joe/Claire combination – which meant the book was generally easy to relate to. There was a blatant line where the dark plot didn’t quite match the slightly chatty and informal way Joe spoke to us but altogether it made the book interesting without being to heavy so it was still suitable for its desired audience. It was altogether a very easy read which I wouldn’t be averse to slipping on my bookshelf along with its ‘hot-off-the-press’ sequel. A very good start for the new author and I hope, as I’m sure many others do too, that she will go on to grace us with many more ‘enjoyable reads’. Good luck!

    By Simran

  9. When I Was Joe is a really good book to read but a little bit sad . I would love to read it again. It’s the best book for me.

  10. It’s amazing!! Didnt put it down 🙂 I just became so emotionally attached to all the characters and it has an unexpected but very good ending 😉 Xx

  11. When I Was Joe was a fantastic book of twists and turns. It’s an action packed adventure book and your eyes will be glued to every page .

  12. I thoroughly enjoyed reading When I Was Joe- ultimately because it was narrated by a person around my age and I could totally relate with some of the emotions Keren David has expressed in the character of Tyler/ Joe! I was completely enthralled by the upbeat plot of this book and so drawn in by the characterisations of Ty, Nicki and Claire. I think that many young people will relish the frankness of this book and the appropriate, interesting themes which it incorporates.
    I have to admit I developed a very strong connection with the character, Claire, who is a very quiet, self-conscious girl in Joe’s class who has cloaked herself behind the secretive pain of her self- harming addiction. It is so easy to feel empathy with Claire’s situation as Keren David has so realistically portrayed the anguish of Claire when her family dismiss her silent cries for help whilst concentrating of the success of Claire’s disabled sister. I feel that the author has been really creative when picking out ways to describe the situations of the characters in the book, for example the way Ty’s mum, Nicki, is remembered by Ty before the stabbing as a good-looking, healthy, young lady- a mum to be proud of, but she is then transformed into a depressed, circumspect woman under the pressure of being a fugitive under the Witness Protection Act.
    My favourite part of When I Was Joe is when Joe is on the run from a dangerous gunman who has discovered his whereabouts: in a London hospital visited his Gran in the Intensive Care Unit. Keren David has succeeded in writing an exhilarating, chilling chase whilst Joe is chased round the hospital by a potentially lethal killer. When Joe is trapped into an enclosed area, waiting for the killer to come and attack him, such an intense build up was created that I actually found myself biting my lip in anticipation! If that is not a sign of excellent, involving literature then I don’t know what is!
    I can only find one slight fault in this book, and that is that I was rather confused by the supposed ‘gangster language’ that Joe/ Tyler used in different parts of the book. I understand what effect it may have meant to make but I think that it was a bit over the top. But this minor flaw did not stop me loving the book one bit! I am definitely going to go out and by the next book in the series with high expectations for an equally excellent follow up!

    By Jessica

    When you first look at the cover of this book you would think it was a book for teenage boys. In fact, I was surprised to discover When I was Joe (by Keren David) is so much more than that. It is a book about love, lies and the stress of teenage life, with a twist.
    Ty witnesses a stabbing and gives a statement to the police. He and his mother are then moved away and given new identities for their own safety. Shy loser Ty gets a whole new image as Joe. The book is about him struggling to keep his new identity a secret. But when he meets Claire, a girl with a dark secret, everything changes.
    When I was Joe is a superb read, I could barely put it down! It is a reasonably thick book and I think I read it in about five hours, I just couldn’t bring myself to stop reading it! It’s clever, humorous, spine tingling, everything you want from a decent book. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, and the phrase ‘never judge a book by its cover’ definitely applies to this book, as it is most definitely a book for girls too. Keren David has done an incredible job on this novel, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel Almost True!

    By Olivia

    When I was Joe is a thoroughly enjoyable book. It’s about a boy called Ty who has had to have a new identity as he is in the witness protection act. He starts to really enjoy his new life as Joe. When I first saw this book, I wasn’t keen, but it is one of those books you cannot put down! Definitely don’t judge it by its cover! It’s a gripping book that keeps you hooked with its twists and turns. It gives you a different perspective on life and makes you realise how hard it really is for some people who are trying to do the right thing. Ty/Joe although having some awful experiences tells the story of the usual every day dramas of teenagers. This is the sort of book you don’t want to read, but if you give it a go I can guarantee you will enjoy it! This book will appeal to anyone, whatever you are interested in!. A really good book!

    By Freya

    When I Was Joe was one of the books I have really enjoyed in a while. I couldn’t put it down and literally read it in two days. The main character Ty/Joe and his mum have to go under a witness protection programme, Ty having witnessed and given evidence on a knife crime. Ty takes on a brand new character Joe and changes his complete image. He becomes someone cool, someone strong and a new person who Ty never was. But Joe really is Ty and every day he has to keep his secret hidden. As the book cover quotes, ‘How can you lie about everything?’ This book includes characters that are not as stereotypical as usual. Ellie, a disabled trainer, becomes a huge part of Joe’s life, as well her sister Claire who has some issues which you will have to read on to find out about. This is such a great read for everyone and really opens your eyes to real life situations that could happen to anyone. I can’t wait to read the sequel, Almost True..

    By Kaajal

  13. Savannah Grey was amazing. I loved it!!!!
    If you liked it you will probably like Shadows by Amy Meredith.

  14. I enjoyed this book, it didn’t turn out the way I expected. I look forward to meeting the authors :)X

  15. Amazing , I didn’t want to put it down. It had a very interesting twist that I would never have thought would happen. A lot of exciting encounters and events happen all the way through the book. Each chapter brought me closer to the character Joe and his story. Overall a really good read. I would read it again and again. Definitely on my favourite books list !!

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