Thursday, August 12, 2010
By Keren David
JUST OUT! September 2010 Frances Lincoln Publishers Ages 12 and up
A completely irresistible YA thriller that explores youth crime and the nature of identity.
Story: When 14-year-old Ty witnesses the knife murder of another teen, he identifies some very dangerous people as the culprits. The police put him and his mother into a witness protection program, telling Ty that, to protect his identity, he must now go by the name “Joe.” Shy loner Ty gets a new name, a new look and a cool new image – life as “Joe” is good. But the criminals will stop at nothing to silence him. And as details of the crime he witnessed begin to emerge, we wonder just how innocent Ty really is. But though flawed, Ty is an enormously appealing character who faces his changed life with anger and sadness, as well as a degree of wit and intelligence.
Story Behind the Story: Debut British novelist Keren David asks what does a name mean? And if you change everything about yourself – your hair, color of your eyes, even your name – do you become a different person? What happens to your ‘self’ and how do you stop lying? David brings the world of East London to life in the book The Daily Telegraph called “an ice-cold thriller about identity, pain and veracity.” But you need not be an Anglophile to understand and appreciate the bustling, working class setting in which the story takes place. The characters and their emotions are real and relatable, even if the subject matter is both brooding and intense. A great choice for advanced middle school as well as mid-level high school readers, When I Was Joe is a fast-paced novel your students won’t likely be able to put down.
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