-The Booklife Prize by Publishers Weekly


When Harrison, the son of American diplomats, lands in Moscow at the height of the Cold War, he knows three things.

His passport will keep him safe.

His daydreams will keep him company.

His music will keep him sane. 

But everything he knows is about to change. 

Harrison’s father has disappeared. His mother is keeping secrets. And his friend Prudence, the fearless daughter of foreign correspondents, leads him on a wild chase across the city in pursuit of a mysterious stranger. 

Suddenly he is on the run from mobsters and spies, who will stop at nothing in their quest for the unlikeliest treasure: a legendary lost recording by The Beatles, a symbol of freedom in a place where rock is banned. 

As international tensions threaten to ignite, Harrison holds the key to finding the album that could prevent war. All he needs is a little help from his friends — but he must decide who to trust, what to risk, and how far to go. 

If you enjoyed Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series, Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity, or Ruta Sepetys’s I Must Betray You, you’ll love Back in the USSR.


A book about rock ’n’ roll and its power to fight suppression, feed the human spirit and kick butt. -Goodreads review

Vibrant sense of place buzzing off every page … spy-thriller tension is shot through with friendship and sly humor. -Amazon review

Read this in two days – couldn’t put it down. -Goodreads review


“Infused with mystery and tension … Joyce displays masterful control over the narrative, beautifully weaving in a thread connected to the Beatles’ White Album … The prose is clear, sharp, and expertly paced. The story of a diplomat’s son could have taken a very familiar turn, but this novel remains fresh, poised, and multilayered from beginning to end … Character development fluidly blends with a riveting storyline, never disappointing readers.” The BookLife Prize by Publishers Weekly 

“Joyce’s duo of intrepid young protagonists are vividly painted and irresistible, and his firsthand experience of Moscow and diplomatic corps are evident in the details that animate and enliven this fast-moving novel of international intrigue. Add to this parallel love stories, uncanny visions, and a recurring theme of Beatles songs coming to life, and you have the recipe for a fun, rich, and sophisticated page-turner. A most worthy addition to the pantheon of YA spy novels … Highly recommended!” –Tim Weed, award-winning author of Will Poole’s Island

“In this fast-paced thriller, the reader happily tags along with the young protagonists as they navigate around the Moscow metro, the city parks, the American embassy, the unnamed and winding streets, and the huge Russian cars—Chaikas—that swallow them up against their will. The premise of the novel is unique, focusing on a quest for the Album, a Beatles recording that seemingly everyone in Moscow, including the mafia, is willing to kill for … Clever plot twists abound, keeping the reader spellbound up to the colorful and dramatic ending.” –Laurel Davis Huber, award-winning author of The Velveteen Daughter

Back In The USSR is a pleasure from cover to cover! A Dan Brown-esque thriller, the book kept me turning the page to see what happened next, all the while delighting with easter eggs, lyric references and the pure joy that The Beatles bring to the world. … May there be many more Harrison and Prudence adventures to come!” –Obadiah Jones, host of Beatles podcast “Gimme Some Truth”

“Joyce has a keen sense of espionage thrillers, combined with the real-life state of affairs that was the Soviet Union, circa 1983 … Joyce’s staggeringly detailed account of Russian topography and language is lovingly supported by the main theme: how American teenager Harrison George (the name is explained with humor) and his close ally Prudence Akobo stumble into a tangled web that involves black market collectors, the KGB, and stalwart Australians, couched in a believable backstory on how a defective White Album test pressing is the key to Cold War dominance.” –Amy McGrath Hughes, host of pop culture & Beatles podcast “Write Hear”

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