If books about knife crime is your thing, then Keren David’s brand new novel When I Was Joe is just right for you. If you’d rather leave knife crime alone, then Keren’s book is still just the thing for you. It’s simply a stunningly good book.
I wasn’t sure about the topic, and I wasn’t sure about the cover. Now I’m quite sure about the whole lot. And considering this is a story that needs to continue in the next book, I’m surprisingly happy about that too. I’d heard that it’s an un-put-downable book, but I had to. Put it down, that is. I could have read non-stop had I not had Christmas getting in the way.
It’s not primarily about knives. The knives are the reason the story exists, but it’s mostly about what it’s like to change your whole identity under the witness protection scheme. You witness a crime, and suddenly your whole life as you know it disappears. We all read about it in the press, but I suppose few stop to consider what it actually means.
Ty and his Mum find out, and most of this book is about Ty’s life as Joe, in a new town. It’s not all bad, but it’s confusing. And the dangers don’t go away.
Keren seems to know how 14-year-old boys think, down to their preoccupation with girls’ bras. In fact, all the young teenagers in the story sound true. Not nice, but quite typical of what they are. The teachers feel right, too.
It’s not so easy for Joe to lie low in his new existence. Life simply gets in the way. He’s not the only one with secrets or problems. Ty really becomes Joe, and finds that he can change into someone he likes better. But will he be able to stay being Joe?
As I mentioned, the story hasn’t come to an end by the end of the book. The first chapter from the next book is included, and it’s a real taste of what’s to come. Can’t wait.