When I Was Joe, by Keren David (fiction) – gang threats, witness protection, murder

book cover of When I Was Joe by Keren David published by Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

Imagine leaving behind everything.

Just vanishing from your school and neighborhood without a word to anyone.

The only witness to a murder, a gang-related knife crime, one that could shut down one of the biggest crime rings in London.

So Ty and his mother must disappear into the Witness protection programme… far away from their multicultural London neighborhood.

Starting anew. Reinventing yourself. What teenage guy wouldn’t want that chance? But how can Ty balance the required secrecy and security with his need to help a new friend, a girl-type new friend?

For our World Wednesday, a brilliant first novel followed by the equally gripping Almost True.

Book info: When I Was Joe / Keren David. Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2010. [author’s blog] [publisher site]

Recommendation: It was just a test, but the boy died – Arron’s gang initiation, but A’s knife went too deep. Ty is the only witness, his life in danger, his mum’s life in danger. Escaping from London by back roads, Ty and Nicki are transformed by Witness Protection agents – dyed hair, contact lenses, different clothes – and taken to a new city, a new school, a new life.

Suddenly, shy Ty is no longer Arron’s shadow, but “Joe”, the cute new guy with cool hair and a mysterious past. His new school specializes in sports (never an option at St. Saviour’s), and Joe finds a talent for running track, thanks to an observant student-teacher who’s a gifted para-athlete.

Not everyone is happy that Joe is a track star, and the bullying at school escalates. Joe’s nightmares about Arron and the knife get worse, Nicki/Mum is stuck at the new house with no job, and misunderstandings with new school friends get out of hand.

How long can Ty and Nicki keep up this charade? Will they have to uproot and move again and again, changing names and identities over and over? Can the detectives really keep the rest of their London family safe until Joe testifies at the murder trial?

A gritty and absorbing read that reflects all too well how fast young lives can change – or stop – with just the flick of a knife blade. Be sure to grab the sequel, Almost True, for the rest of the story! (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

2 thoughts on “When I Was Joe, by Keren David (fiction) – gang threats, witness protection, murder

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.