10% off all books and free delivery over £40
Buy from our bookstore and 25% of the cover price will be given to a school of your choice to buy more books.

When I Was the Greatest

"A boy’s friendships and family loyalty are harshly tested in downtown Brooklyn"

View All Editions

£7.99 £7.19

In Stock. Same day dispatch on orders before 3pm.

Add To Wishlist
Write A Review

LoveReading4Kids Says

LoveReading4Kids Says

February 2022 Book of the Month

The Carnegie medal winning author’s debut novel, published in the UK for the first time with the bonus of stylish illustrations, is a masterful portrayal of family and friendships in an urban poor neighbourhood of Brooklyn. Far from the cliché of drugs and violence in the ‘hood’ and yet unmistakably authentic and gritty, this is a rewarding and character driven novel that deals with the complexities of teenage friendships when poor decisions can have fatal consequences.

The title hints at the origins of the main character’s nickname, Ali, and it is the boxing skills he has been taught by Malloy, a legless Vietnam vet and just one of the memorable minor characters, which enables him to come to the rescue when needed. A misunderstanding at the big party the three boys have been snuck into, leads to Needles, who suffers from Tourettes, getting badly beaten up while his own brother Noodles does nothing and allows Ali to fight alone. We have seen the beautifully nuanced development of their friendship since the brothers moved in next door to Ali. Nicknamed by his sassy younger sister Jazz and taken under the wing of his strict, hard working but loving mother, Doris, the boys became inseparable, but can Ali and Needles forgive this betrayal, and can they all escape the retribution which is coming their way?

What this beautifully written novel does above all is showcase the strength that a loving and supportive family can give and when that is missing how friendships and community can fill the gap. Needles and his condition and the way in which he is accepted by the community is sensitively portrayed. The wisecracking dialogue is full of warmth, humour and genuine affection for the setting. A very real reading experience that is accessible and profound. Highly recommended.

Joy Court

Books of the Month

Find This Book In

Suitable For:
Other Genres:
Recommendations:

About

Press Reviews

Author

More

Collections Featuring This Book

You Might Also Like...

YA readers

Baby Love

Jacqueline Wilson

Hardback

In Stock

£11.69 £12.99

YA readers

Kissing Emma

Shappi Khorsandi

Paperback

In Stock

£7.19 £7.99

YA readers

Smashed

Andy Robb

Paperback

In Stock

£7.19 £7.99

YA readers

Gut Feelings

C. G. Moore

Paperback

In Stock

£7.19 £7.99

YA readers

The M Word

Brian Conaghan

Paperback

In Stock

£7.19 £7.99

YA readers

The Boxer

Nikesh Shukla

Paperback

In Stock

£7.19 £7.99