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Title: Call Me Joe
Authors: Martin Van Es and Andrew Crofts
Published: 4th of June 2020 – Red Door Press
Format: Kindle edition – 320 pages
Hello Hello! How are you?
I’ve been thinking about this book all day and I finally had to sit down and write my review for it. It really is a very different book and I don’t think that I will be able to give it a star rating, you will understand why once you read this post. I wanted to say thank you to @RedDoorBooks for having me on this blog tour and for providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
The world is on the brink of disaster. The environment, society and mankind itself are facing extreme challenges in a world that is both more connected, and yet more divided than ever before. Fear and confusion seep into all parts of everyday life now, more than ever, the world needs one voice, one guide… One day the Earth is plunged into darkness and when light appears again so does a man – call him Joe – claiming to be the son of God.
Can Joe bring the world’s most creative thinkers and leaders together to tackle the ills of mankind? Can he convince us all to follow him before it’s too late? In this compelling and prescient novel, Martin van Es and Andrew Crofts highlight the key concerns of our time and imagines a future where we, at last, all work together to ensure the future of our world and all the life that calls it home.
Call Me Joe by Martin Van Es and Andrew Crofts is actually a very complicated book to describe, and I wouldn’t even know where to start in allocating a genre to it, but I think that maybe you could call this book a look at our world and maybe a way to start the conversation to “save” the world, be it concerning climate change, political systems, poverty, discriminations and many more. The one thing that surprised me the most about this book is how utterly relevant it is today, I don’t just mean today as, in the grand scheme of time, I literally mean TODAY.
I do think that this book is going to be subject to very many controversial views and some people are not going to like it at all, some people are going to love it, and others like me are going to see how it is important to start and continue the conversation that we all need to do something about every single problem that we encounter in our daily lives, even though I don’t think that the methods and measures described in this book are the correct ones for each problem.
It’s going to be really hard for me to write this review, and it’s probably going to be very hard for you to read it and to understand what I mean without you reading it yourself. What I will say is that one day the sun goes out for exactly 12 minutes and when it finally “turns back on”, a man comes out of the bushes, claims that he is the Son of God and accepts that people call him Joe. Now, as a person who isn’t religious at all, and who takes elements from many different beliefs and philosophies and incorporates them into my daily life, I have to admit that using the figure of God as the one that will save our world was maybe a bit insensitive, to say the least. I’m sure that religious people will feel validated by this book, rightly so, but I also think others will feel quite uneasy, especially if they are not Christian, or religious.
As you can see from my babbling, it really is a very hard book to describe and talk about because of the number of discussions it could provoke. The one way I can think to describe it would be that it is a sort of inspirational metaphor that the authors and publishers have decided to use in order to explain to people that a change has got to come in all our daily lives in order to reverse and stall the detrimental effects we are having on planet earth. I’m not sure bringing God into this was the correct stance and I know that a lot of scientists will agree, but, I think the most important thing here is that the figure of Jesus, or Joe as he will be called in the book, is probably more of an image and a call for us to look into ourselves and actually find the thing we believe in the most. I might be going completely off track here, and I’m sorry if it seems very strange to you, but this is a very strange book.
I think that what the authors have wanted to convey in Call Me Joe, is not that we all need to look to religion, specifically Christianity to be able to save the world, to abolish political structures, to reverse climate change, to bring people out of poverty, to give every single person the exact same opportunities, freedoms and equalities (to name only a few); but, that we have to find within ourselves that which we believe in to be able to make this world a better place for every single human being.
So, long story short, I can see why people would hate this book, I can see why people would adore it, I’m sort of skirting in the middle because although I agree with many things in this book, there are some things that I cannot adhere to personally and I find that maybe it would be insensitive to apply these “guidelines” to everyone. For example, in the book, the characters have said that we all need to stop using cars, unfortunately, if I were to do that, I couldn’t go to university, work, the hospital, I probably couldn’t even go to the shop because I live in a remote part of the French countryside where the only transport that graces us is the school bus at 5.30 pm every week-day. What I think would have been a more sensitive way to explain the need to change our daily lives to reverse pollution would maybe have been to say that we need to find safe alternatives.
Equally, in the book, Joe says we need to stop eating meat. I was a vegan for a few months last year because of personal reasons, however, I’m allergic to so many of the “vegan alternatives” to all the things that have animal products, that I wasn’t able to eat a balanced diet and therefore made myself ill. I do, however, try to minimise my meat and animal product consumption, and maybe that would have been a better discourse to use because I personally felt a bit targeted by some of the things the book was implying.
I didn’t expect this review to turn into an essay as such, but I do think that it’s not the type of book that I can personally affix a rating to, write a review and be done with. I do think that the world needs to undergo a radical change, however, I’m not sure about the God, vegan and no car discourse, for myself personally and I probably won’t be the only one. This was definitely a really interesting book and it had a lot of things going for it, along with different narratives and side-plots.
I really appreciated at the end of the book a bit of information on the Joe Project, and I think that maybe this book was not blurbed or publicised in the correct light. For all intents and purposes, I thought this was a fictional tale, and actually, it really isn’t, it’s a philosophical, political, social, economic, etc, discourse and a call to us to mend our ways and help the Earth, which I more than agree with, even though I cannot align with everything that is described in the story.
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
As I have said, I really wouldn’t know how to rate this book, it’s not a fictional story, nor is it purely non-fictional, I suppose it is a mix of both and that makes it extremely complicated for me to rate. Like everything in life, some will hate it and others will love it, I personally have very mixed feelings but I do think that it was a very interesting book and has started a fair few questions in my head and has pushed me to look into what I can personally do in many different sectors to try to help the earth and the people living on it. Maybe that was its sole intention, but I can’t assume to know if it was or not.
In any case, I do think that it’s a really worthwhile book to read, as long as you go in open-minded that it’s not purely a work of fiction. It’s a very complicated book with some subjects you might not want to talk or think about, but I do think that it can be used as a starter to the conversations we need to be having today in every different aspect of our lives. I suppose if I were to rate it I would maybe give it 3.5 stars, it’s not a bad book by any means and the writing style was immersive, I wanted to keep reading and to find out as much as I could, that being said, it’s not the type of book I would recommend you read if you want to forget about the world. You have to bear in mind that going into this book, you will be confronted with many things that you may not want to be confronted with, so I would advise you to go in with an open mind and maybe take a step back from what the book seems to be implying because I don’t think that every single thing it asks is to be taken as facts, or as the only solution.
That being said, this review was very confusing for me to write and I’m sure it’s going to be quite confusing for people to read. I suppose I did enjoy this book, although I wouldn’t say it’s like any of our favourite genres that we can get swept up in, forget about our lives and have a moment of respite. It’s a book that will make you think, maybe it will enrage you, maybe it will give you hope, but in any case, I do think it’s a very interesting and worthwhile read, especially at the moment.
Thank you so much to Red Door Press, Helen, Martin and Andrew for having me on this tour, it was a very new and interesting experience for me.
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed this post if you were able to make it to the end. See you soon, stay safe,
ABOUT THE AUTHORS – MARTIN VAN ES AND ANDREW CROFTS
Martin van Es is a Dutch entrepreneur, father and grandfather. Born in 1959, the youngest of three children, he studied clinical psychology in Groningen, but got distracted by partying and a permanent lack of money. In 1986, he became a father to his daughter, and his son joined the world in 1989, during this time he decided it was time to study again and start living more seriously.
After graduating in international marketing, Martin took a job as a purchasing director of a partnership of 28 wholesalers, enabling him to travel the world. He then became director of a packaging wholesaler in Arnhem, The Netherlands. Over 14 years he developed the company alongside his team to create a leading player in the international packaging industry.
In 2005, Martin sold the company to the largest distributor in the packaging world, and he ventured into volunteering, investing and advising companies. MooiWeer, on the beautiful island of Terschelling, is a father and son enterprise, of which Martin is particularly proud.
Between 2013 and 2017, Martin worked as MD for a large, international, family-owned group of packaging wholesale companies specialised in environmental issues. The role, and the birth of his first two grandchildren, have had a massive influence on Martin.
He started writing Call Me Joe in 2017 and hopes the book will provoke conversation, challenge the status quo, and encourage people to question more about what is happening in the world, to question their leaders, and to consider their role in the future of the planet.
Having been introduced by Dutch publisher, Geert Kimpen, Martin Van Es and Andrew Crofts spent a great deal of time together at Andrew’s home in Sussex and Martin’s home on the remote island of Terschelling. There were long evenings talking beside log fires and long meals in beach cafes as they worked out every detail of the story which had been brewing for many years inside Martin’s head, turning it into The One – who can save the world.
Andrew is a ghostwriter and author who has published more than a hundred books, both fiction and non-fiction, a dozen of which were Sunday Times number one bestsellers. He has also guided a number of international clients successfully through the minefield of independent publishing. Between 2010 and 2020 he has written with authors in the USA , Europe, the Far East, the Middle East, India and Africa.
Andrew’s name first became known among publishers for the stories he brought them by the otherwise disenfranchised. Travelling all over the world he worked with victims of enforced marriages in North Africa and the Middle East, sex workers in the Far East, orphans in war-torn areas like Croatia and dictatorships like Romania, victims of crimes and abused children everywhere.
The enormous success of these books brought many very different people to his door; first came the celebrities from the worlds of film, music, television and sport, and then the real elite in the form of world leaders in business and politics.
Andrew has also published his own fiction, most recently What Lies Around Us and Secrets of the Italian Gardener, which both draw on his experiences ghostwriting for the powerful and wealthy. His books on writing include Ghostwriting, (A&C Black) and The Freelance Writer’s Handbook, (Piatkus), which has been reprinted eight times over twenty years and Confessions of a Ghostwriter (Friday Project).
Throughout his bestseller, The Ghost, Robert Harris quotes Andrew’s book, Ghostwriting. Harris’s book went on to become a major movie by the same name, directed by Roman Polanski and starring Ewan McGregor as the eponymous ghost.
Andrew was on the Management Committee of the Society of Authors in London from 2012 to 2015. He lectures on the subject of making a living from writing and frequently guests at writing workshops, literary festivals and in the media. He blogs regularly on matters pertaining to publishing, self-publishing and writing.