When I was Joe
Beautifully paced, this dark, powerful, shocking novel balances the taut suspense of a thriller with complex and delicately realised personal relationships and emotions. Not a comfortable read – but a striking one. Highly commended for the Teenage Booktrust Prize 2010
When I Was Joe by Keren David jumped up and hit us in the face, keeping us grabbed from the first moment, also keeping many of the judging committee up all hours until they finished it. Joe is a hugely realistic and identifiable teenage boy and it is easy to imagine how much teenage boys in particular would enjoy and respond to this important book. Lucy Christopher for the judges of the Branford Boase Award 2011 for which When I Was Joe was shortlisted.
'A complex, engaging read about a boy starting a new life by escaping his past.' Kirkus Reviews
"A riveting, on your toes , exciting read and an intelligent, and insightful presentation of some painful and important teenage issues...
I cannot recommend this book too highly for all teenagers (and certainly not just boys) There is going to be a sequel. I can’t wait." School Librarian magazine
Magnificent...David depicts Tyler and the revelations that slowly, painfully emerge throughout both books with extraordinary shades-of-grey subtlety – and a wry humour to leaven the depressing subject matter. The book is rightly longlisted for the 2011 Carnegie Medal. The Guardian
"This stirring novel lifts the lid on a world which, by its nature, is hidden from us. " Irish Examiner
(This) stunning and harrowing debut from Keren David is both exciting and thought-provoking. Ty's journey into witness protection is a great read which is hugely recommended for teenagers. The Bookbag.co.uk
"An accomplished debut novel..very exciting." Ham&High
"Strong writing and a deft hand with characterisation make this a compelling read and leave the reader looking forward to the sequel." The Australian
"The plot twists are captivating but it is the human drama that makes this book so haunting." Jewish Chronicle
“This book has it all - great plot, entertaining, well written and talks of push-up bras.” 15-year-old reviewer on Amazon.
"Simply a stunningly good book." The Bookwitch
“Thoughtful and well-crafted” The Financial Times
"A terrific read" Mary Hoffman, author of the Stravaganza series.
"Two things stand out for me about this remarkably assured debut. One is the confident storytelling voice that makes a well-constructed plot seem like the easiest thing in the world. The other is how well the author, Keren David, understands the male teenage mind.
It's a novel constructed around a pressing social issue - urban knife crime - but it's so much more than that. The writing is full of wit and social observation. Male violence is carefully explored but so is female manipulation. The author lets nobody get away scot free.
But for me the biggest plus, and the biggest surprise, about When I Was Joe is that at the heart of this gritty action-packed thriller nestles a love story that is both tender and moving."
Brian Keaney, children's author.
"Rarely do you read a book that can change how you see the world and the people in it. Like many of you I'm sure, I have read hundreds maybe even thousands of books. I'm a librarian and I love reading so it is hardly surprising. Yet only twice in my experience as a reader have I ever so deeply connected with a book that it is engraved upon my very soul and becomes a part of my identity. The first book was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It taught me about injustice and it taught me to have integrity and I love unconditionally it for that. The second is this book When I was Joe by Keren David." The Bookette
"A superb debut novel, written in short sharp sentences which skilfully twist and turn leaving the reader hanging on to the very end." Carousel
"An accessible, addictive and action-packed novel with a thrilling plot and fascinating themes. Highly recommended." Chicklish
“An amazing book. I recommend it to anyone who likes to read about love and running away from things.” Y8 reviewer from Hampton Community School.
“All you want to do all day is read it!” Y8 reviewer from Hampton Community School.
“Ballsy, entertaining and highly readable.” Amazon reviewer.
"Honest and raw...and packs a punch that'll leave you mulling it over for days." Wondrous Reads
“Flawless” I Was a Teenage Book Geek
"An edgy and contemporary thriller." Julia Eccleshare, LoveReading4Kids
"This book is just brilliant...everyone should read it" Once Upon a Bookcase
Ms David has really managed to get inside the head of a teenage boy The BookZone for Boys
This novel was fantastic - a unique voice that grips you from the first page, and a highly original concept....It's edgy and dark without being too confronting ...because of the amount of humour in it. YA writer Steph Bowe
I can't wait to read Almost True. I would like it to arrive on my doorstep NOW, please YA writer Cat Clarke
If Almost True maintains both the narrative and the psychological drive of When I was Joe, it will be a welcome and thought-provoking addition to teenage fiction. Armadillo magazine
If you're only going to read one book this year then I'd recommend When I Was Joe - it was a compelling read that I couldn't put down even if I wanted to and although the main subject of the story was hard hitting it was still light enough in places to make me laugh out loud. Sarah's Reviews
I cannot begin to tell you the impact this book has had on me. Seriously one of the best books I have ever had the pleasure to read and I cannot thank Keren David enough for writing a book so beautiful, so captivating and real. Books don't often make me cry, but I truly sympathised with Ty/Joe, and felt the emotions he was going through. Towards the end frustration was at an all-time high, and to be honest I felt the prickle of tears.
Ryan at Empire of Books
Simply stunning in its ability to keep a reader dangling with anticipation on every page, When I Was Joe doesn't fail to surprise and end with a bang. YA Book Queen