Monday, 27 April 2015

Joe All Alone by Joanna Nadin reviewed by Rhian Ivory



No parents, no rules...No problem?
When 13-year-old Joe is left behind in Peckham while his mum flies to Spain on holiday, he decides to treat it as an adventure, and a welcome break from Dean, her latest boyfriend. Joe begins to explore his neighbourhood, making a tentative friendship with Asha, a fellow fugitive hiding out at her grandfathers’ flat. But the then food and money run out, his mum doesn’t come home, and the local thugs catch up with him. Joe realises time is running out too, and makes a decision that will change his life forever...
Publishing date: May 2015
Cover designer: Helen Crawford-White


Warning - not only will you need tissues when you read this book but you’ll also need to hug someone repeatedly and be hugged yourself. And you’re going to want to talk about it and possibly miss meals. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
As you can guess from the title Joe, the protagonist is indeed going to spend most of the novel alone. Jo Nadin dispenses with the adults very early on in this novel and at first Joe and the reader are both delighted, this is going to be epic! Joe can play on his Xbox all day, watch as much TV as he likes and even eat mars bars for breakfast because there isn’t anyone to stop him but the novelty soon wears off and the loneliness and uncertainty of being entirely alone set in.  Joe is a likeable character in an undesirable setting; his environment is fully realised and brought to life by vivid descriptions so that parts of the novel feel quite filmic in quality. At times I felt as if I were watching the reality show of Joe’s life but without the glamour, glitz and frighteningly applied fake tans, well there are some fake tans but you get the idea.
The story is neatly divided up into days charting Joe’s week of adventure and independence once his mum and her boyfriend, Dean have departed for Spain. But the promise of adventure is soon marred by the reality of almost empty cupboards, the electricity card eating up his last penny and the lack of any family to turn to as the fridge reveals only one last meal – left over lamb curry. Joe thinks about the budgeting lessons he’s had at school and at first deals with his predicament in an impressive fashion but as he so rightly says what they don’t teach you at school is what to do when the money runs out.
Joe’s situation is pitiful and painful until he bumps into the girl across the hall and then (thank goodness because I was getting really worried about him) everything changes but in the most believable and satisfying manner. When Joe meets Asha he finally has someone to talk to and have a laugh with and once he trusts her enough he shares the secret he’s been keeping about what Dean has hidden in the flat. But Asha is more than just a confidant, she’s someone for Joe to impress and the scenes following Joe’s attempt at a makeover are really funny and make you love Joe all the more.
The novel ends in a real adventure, high stakes chases, risk, excitement, tension and fear but most importantly of all HOPE.
About the author

Joanna is the author of more than 30 books for children and young people, including the best-selling Rachel Riley series for teens and the award-winning Penny Dreadful series for younger readers. She has been shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, thrice shortlisted for Queen of Teen, while Spies, Dad, Big Lauren and Me (9+) was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. She is a former broadcast journalist and Special Adviser to the Prime Minister, and also freelances as a speechwriter.
You can follow Jo on twitter - @joannanadin   

About the reviewer
Rhian Ivory has written 4 novels published by Bloomsbury under her
maiden name Rhian Tracey including The Bad Girls Club. Her new novel The Boy who drew the Future comes out this September published by FireFly Press - Firefly Press
You can follow Rhian on twitter - @Rhian_Ivory
The Boy who drew the Future - Pinterest



Penny Dolan said...

This sounds a great book, Rhian, and good to have all the author details there as well. Thanks!

Unknown said...

It is a wonderful book, highly recommend it.

Rachel Hamilton said...

Great review, Rhian. So good in fact that I've just pre-ordered it as I'm now desperate to know how it ends! Rachel x

Unknown said...

That's lovely to hear Rachel! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Anonymous said...

I got this book from the school library, and now that I have read the book review I know that it should be a safe and appropriate book for an 11 year old. Really looking forward to reading it!

GosieKin said...

I haven't read the book, only watched the TV series with my son. Is it just me or does the plot sound similar to 'Lily Alone' by Jacqueline Wilson? (Lily's mum irresponsibly takes off to Spain with her new boyfriend, leaving Lily to fend for herself and her siblings and comes back only once the authorities got involved...)

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