Sunday, August 18, 2019

Reading Diary: Joe All Alone by Joanna Nadin

I'd heard good things about Joe All Alone by Joanna Nadin but I put off reading this book for the same reason that I've also put off writing this review: it all feels a little personal.

The basis of Joe All Alone is that this 13 year old boy, Joe, is left all alone in his flat whilst his mum and her boyfriend go off on holiday.  It was only when I sat down to write this blog post that I saw that this book was being described as 'Home Alone meets Jacqueline Wilson' and I feel that that description is pretty apt.  It has elements of 'this is the coolest thing ever' with all the freedom that comes with being alone.  But also the heartbreaking reality of being faced with the responsibility of things no 13 year old should have to deal with or consider.  Things like what to do when the food runs out or the electricity. 

I loved Joe.  His voice was endearing and I really felt for him immediately. I loved his friendship with Asha and the ways in which people show Joe that there is still goodness in the world after the shocking abandonment of his mother. 

It was definitely hard for me to read some parts of Joe All Alone.  Which is mostly because I grew up in a similarly neglectful environment.  There was no bad influence-boyfriend that swayed an otherwise good parent into making bad decisions in my case - I was left at home the first time around Joe's age.  For a weekend at first and then it would become longer (and it was never easier).  There were moments of Joe's narrative that really brought up the confusion and fear that really brought home my own childhood memories. 

Joe All Alone was a challenging read for me because of my own history.  It really shined a torch at poverty and neglect, for sure, but it balanced that out with Joe's positivity and optimism.  The end result felt realistic but ultimately hopeful.

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