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 when the 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…’
Joe All Alone is a very deceptive book. In a very good way. On the surface it’s a home alone adventure with a light boy-meets-girl storyline, written in a brilliantly accessible way that will have children racing through it. But as you read it you find so much more. Lurking just under the surface is a world of drug deals, domestic violence, bullying, mental illness, racism, neglect and poverty. Sounds dark, hey? And yet it isn’t. Because the key here is the accessibility.
The story is told from Joe’s point of view and Nadin writes so that we see all the shiny potential in him. We see the darkness of the world he lives in as he casually drops it into his story, but he is such a brightness within it, that the story becomes full of hope. We are full of sympathy and empathy and we are rooting for him to succeed, despite his circumstances.
The supporting characters bring so much to the book. Asha and her grandpa see the positive and the potential in everything and their outlook is infectious, encouraging the reader to look beyond the surface and find the brightness within. They give the reader hope in the face of adversity. Yet I love that there’s no fairytale happy ending here. Nadin creates a truthful portrayal of what poverty and deprivation can do to a family.
A brilliantly written book that will help children understand the effects of poverty, whilst giving them hope and showing them that there’s always a bright side to be found. A stunner!
You can get your copy of Joe All Alone here.
Asha’s story continues in White Lies, Black Dare available here.
Source: my lovely local library.