Friday, September 9, 2011

When I was Joe by Keren David- ADVISABLE

David, Keren When I was Joe, 384 pages, Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2010, $16.95.

Language-PG-13 (1f*), Mature Content-PG-13, Violence-PG-13

After London teen Ty witnesses a fatal stabbing, his grandmother encourages him to go to the police. While he is on the way home from making his statement, the building where he lives with his single mother is fire-bombed. Ty and his mother are taken into the police protection program and given new identities; thus quiet, average Ty becomes Joe, the mysterious new kid with secrets to keep. Settled in a new town, Joe finds himself the object of attention by the reigning queen bee at his new school and by the athletics coach who believes that Joe has potential. Ty likes being popular, successful Joe, but his tough urban upbringing and the pressure to keep his true identity a secret cause him to make decisions that continually draw more and more attention to himself. Desperate to stay alive and have a normal life, Ty is constantly on edge and in danger in this engrossing thriller.

A book that will appeal to boys, this story centers on the real feelings and conflicts of a teenage boy stuck in an impossible situation of his own making. The British cultural references may be a little foreign to Americans, but Ty's confusion, frustration, and alienation will be very familiar to every teen reader.

HS-ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Gretchen

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