When I was Joe by Keren David

there are people out there who beat and tortured my gran to discover where to find me, and my mum may have stupidly given them my address

Publishers’ blurb

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. This wonderfully gripping and intelligent novel depicts Ty/Joe’s confused sense of identity in a moving and funny story that teenage boys and girls will identify with – a remarkable debut from a great new writing talent.

Further information

Keren David’s blog

Keren David page at Lovereading4kids


23 comments on “When I was Joe by Keren David

  1. I’m actually angry that this book has finished. I’ve been addicted to it yesterday and today; I don’t want it to end! Happy to hear there’s a sequel though. Anyway, “When I was Joe” was a fantastic book which I couldn’t put down. Ty (aka Joe) has a chance to live through life as another, making new friends, new hobbies… but his old life is threatning to ruin his new one. I highly recommend it and hope to see it on the shortlist.


  2. This book is one of the best I’ve read in a long time. Last time I remember feeling what I did when reading this book was when I read Phillip Pullaman’s “His Dark Materials” Trilogy, which gave me my love of reading. The story is about young Tyler, who witnesses a murder. When he points out the culprits, their families and friends are keen on making sure Tyler stays quiet. Thus, with a petrol bomb through his window, Ty begins his new life as Joe in the witness protection programme. The change from Tyler to Joe doesn’t just reflect a new identity, but a new personality. Keren David in this story is able to trigger so many powerful emotions from you, like anger, joy, and maybe a little bit of fear and worry too. David pulls you into this book unlike most other books you will read, and she will keep you a prisoner in her world that she’s created, from the first sentence, to the last word. I strongly recommend that you read this book, so you can see what I see in it. I hope this book makes it onto the shortlist and ultimately wins the award.

  3. “When I Was Joe” was an extremely tense and gripping novel. Each chapter was terrific and I just couldn’t put the book down. It’s a change from the other stories I read but this one is just brilliant. I will continue to read all the books that Keren David releases and if they are as exciting as “When I Was Joe” then I’m I’ll be up all night reading! I loved the way the novel transformed throughout each chapter and I would recommend this book to every teenager who loves reading. There’s no way of putting the book down, it just continued at its peak all the way through. The use of three personalities was very effective. Keren David left the story on a cliffhanger, all I’m hoping is that it’s as good as the first!

  4. When I was Joe, despite its naff blurb – yes, I am referring to “shy loser” and “cool new image” – started well. However, as the book progresses, very quickly it loses its way and changes from the initial story of a murder witness to self harm. Not one for the short list but certainly a good read – just don’t judge it by its blurb!

    Caldervale High

  5. At first, I wasn’t sure of “When I Was Joe” by Keren David, I haven’t read a lot of it. It now has me gripped. Every sentence encourages me to read more and more. So far, I can’t possibly imagine the outcome, however I’m sure the end will be as promising as I anticipate.

  6. I am now a bit into the book and i am enjoying it more, there has been a couple of twists which have changed my view of the outcome, i in my opinion, this book is still, so far, a good read.

  7. A really good read. I was totally absorbed. I recommend this book to anyone.

  8. The book I am reading is called “When I was Joe” by Keren David. I think this book is extremely interesting and it’s always leaving me wanting to read more. It is a very mysterious book and it’s always surprising me as it’s impossible to predict what’s coming next. “When I was Joe” is written in a way where you know there is always something even bigger and/or better round the corner. Anything between a secret about someone or something that can be so surprising, it’s unbelievable or a completely new person coming into the mix to disturb the balance.

  9. The book I am reading is called “When I was Joe” by Keren David. I think this book is extremely interesting and it’s always leaving me wanting to read more. It is a very mysterious book and it’s always surprising me as it’s impossible to predict what’s coming next. “When I was Joe” is written in a way where you know there is always something even bigger and/or better round the corner. Anything between a secret about someone or something that can be so surprising, it’s unbelievable or a completely new person coming into the mix to disturb the balance.

    I am dissapointed theat “When I was Joe” is finished now as it was such a great book. I am certainly going to read the sequel “Almost True” to find out what happens next. This is one of the best books I have read and I highly recommend it to everyone!

  10. “When I Was Joe” by Keren David is a very exciting book, it had me gripped the whole way through, every line was just getting more and more exciting. The fact that Ty (aka Joe) had the chance to live a whole new life and to make loads of new friends and have new hobbies and have a new look was a great idea for a book. There was a lot of good and sometimes bad twists but overall, the book should be a strong contender for the shortlist and I would be dissapointed if it didn’t make it. I also can’t wait for the sequel to come out, it should be good considering how good the first one was. I would strongly recommend this book to people of all ages.

  11. “When i was Joe” by Keren David is an amazing book. Its gripping and funny and exciting. When Ty becomes Joe and he and his mum move away, Ty get a new image. He makes all new friends, and even gets a girlfriend – who is more trouble than she’s worth – and finds a hobby. But he make a new friend and soon both their secrets come tumbling out. I loved the idea of having to go and start somewhere new with a new name and try to lie about everything, I also loved the blossoming friendship between Joe (a.k.a – Ty) and Claire. It make a really good read. it was unputdownable and when I did manage to put it down, I ended up with it back in my hand again after a really short while. It was probably one of the best books that i’ve read in a long while.

    Overall if i had to give this book a rating out of 10 it would be 9.9. I loved the book.

  12. “When I was Joe” by Keren David is a thrilling reality book which traps you in a world of violence and fear. As soon as I had opened the first page I was captivated by the harrowing reality of knife gang culture. I was hooked by the fact that just witnessing a murder could land you in a lot of trouble. Keren David had some brilliant, creative ideas in this grabbing book and I like the fact that she slowly but surely lets you in on the night of the murder by a little information in every paragraph. That technique helps to build up atmosphere and tension and grabs hold of the reader.. This book was constantly glued to my hands and at every opportunity i had a little read. When Tyler [spoiler removed by admin] I was devastated! When he meets quiet Claire I instantly had a feeling that they two were made for each other but [spoiler removed by admin]. Overall i thoroughly enjoyed this book..i just totally blew my mind! Well done to Keren David for emphasizing the truth about knives and well done for your truly great book!

  13. When I Was Joe is an amazing book, its fast paced right from the start, it pulls you in so that you cant put it down even for a second. Its a real action thriller but also a very emotional book. Joe’s decsions arent always correct but they certainly come straight from the heart. You would need to have a heart of stone not to get emotionally involved in this book. I lay in my bed to 3am in the morning not being able to put it down. Then once I finally put it down I was laying in my bed to atleast 4am thinking about how the book. Not a very good thing to do when you have math first thing in the morning. Then once I finished the book I was straight down my local library and my school library to see if they have the sequell, Almost True. When I was Joe is an excellent book for anyone around the age of 14. Although I was a bit optimistic about the book when I got asked to read it, the first few pages gripped me and pulled me into Joe’s harsh world. He goes from being a bit of a goody goody two shoes whos not at all popular to being the most popular boy in his new school. But this just leads to problems apon problems. Hopefully everything will turn out ok with joe and his mum and gran in the next book.

    Gary 😛

  14. Grass by Cathy Macphail is a very interesting story about a young boys troubles with gang warfare in his community and how his life is drastically changed by it. The book was a good read for me because the boy in the story is just like any normal boy but its his circumstances that really make the book enjoyable. The book is very good in the sense that it is written with the same boyish banter that is actually used. If there was one complaint i could make about the book it would be the constant use of “I felt sick” which becomes quite annoying after a while but apart from that the book is really enjoyable and really drags you into the story. I would definetely recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read.

  15. Keren David’s, ‘When I was Joe’ is a modern knife-crime novel. Ty, or Joe as he’s known later in the book, is involved in a knife crime in near his home London. The first chapters follow him and his mum (Nicki) through police inquiries which lead up to them being put under a police protection scheme, requiring a change of image -and indirectly, attitude- for both Ty and Nicki. This, is where Joe is introduced.

    Joe, despite initial hesitation, takes full advantage of the situation. He’s new, and unknown, and it doesn’t take long for him to realise he can alter himself completely, and he does.

    As part of the alteration from Ty to Joe, he joins the athletics team, therefore meeting Ellie, a wheel-chair bound Paralympic competitor. Ellie trains with Joe regularly, and it is through Ellie, that joe meets Claire.

    Claire is shy and quiet and Joe brushes her off at first, until Joe realises she too has a dark secret she’s been keeping to herself…

    ‘When I was Joe’ is a book laden with mystery and secrets, it’s very believable and the characters are all relatable. A really great book.

  16. “When i was Joe” by Kerin David is a thrilling book full of adventure and action. This book pulls you in as if you are part of the story and I couldn’t put it down. Tyler is a character that you feel emotion for and can really become his friend throughout the book. He witnessed a terrible murder that his friend was involved in. Tyler went to the police(which i thought was the right thing to do) and got sent to a witness protection programme because the murderers were out to get him and all the people he cared about.
    I would definately recommend this book to all high school children because it is very exciting and gripping. I can’t wait to read the next part of Tyler’s story.
    Laura, Clyde Valley High School

  17. ‘When I Was Joe’ by Keren David is an exciting book which tells the story of a young boy who witnessed a murder and his whole life changed forever. This books sucks you right into the action and once you start reading you cannot stop! Keren David uses alot of good techniques to create tension and suspense. I was glued to this book and couldnt put it down even for a second! When Joe meets a girl called Claire I knew that moment that they were meant to be together. Joe’s life is soon twisted round again and he ends up with another secret. Overall i thought this book was very enjoyable and i would recommend itto anyone. I congradulate Keren David on her thrilling and mysterious book!
    Clyde Valley High School

  18. When I was Joe by Keren David is a dramatic and enticing book , it draws you in from start to finish and is very exciting .I couldn’t put it down and when i did i had to pick it back up again . I would give this book a 10 out of 10 and it has to be my favourite of of all the books!

  19. ‘When I was Joe’ by Karen David is an exciting book which tells the story of a young boy who witnesses a murder and has his whole life changed forever. His new identities create lots of suspense. This is a great book full of action. It has lots of secrets which makes you want to keep reading. As soon as I read the blurb I couldn’t wait to read it. I really enjoyed reading ‘When I was Joe’ and I couldn’t put it down!

  20. I read grass a while before it was on the catalyst shortlist and i thought it was brillant with a great plot and characters it had me hooked from page one

  21. Another of the longlisted titles that I didn’t manage to read before it made it to the shortlist but now that I have, I agree that it should be here along with the other 3 titles. An exciting read, full of suspense. An interesting concept, the witness protection scheme in Britain. I felt for both Joe and his mother having to leave their lives behind and start again but always with the threat of discovery lurking in the background. The idea that Joe was hiding something more about the crime he witnessed kept me engrossed to the final pages.

  22. This Book was absolutely awesome!!! I just couldnt put it down it was so addictive. I’d advise anyone who gets it to only start reading it if they’ve got the next buk ‘Almost True’ with them. Or u’ll seriously die of suspense.
    Even after I finished both i just wanted to read more and more of it!

    Seriously Addictive!

  23. i like this a lot and i believe there should be a sequel

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