Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Simple Gift” as Want to Read:
The Simple Gift
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Simple Gift

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  796 Ratings  ·  105 Reviews
I'm not proud.

I'm sixteen, and soon to be homeless.

Weary of his life with his alcoholic, abusive father, sixteen-year-old Billy packs a few belongings and hits the road, hoping for something better than what he left behind. He finds a home in an abandoned freight train outside a small town, where he falls in love with rich, restless Caitlin and befriends a fellow train re

Paperback, 205 pages
Published June 4th 2000 by University of Queensland Pr (Australia) (first published January 4th 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,810)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 20, 2016 PattyMacDotComma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Teens, teachers, readers of poetry, anyone who remembers being a kid.
What an absolutely delightful Aussie book this is for both adults and young readers. The layout is long, slender strings of free verse. No arty rhymes or fancy rhythms, just a flowing, straight-forward, thoughtful story.

Billy is a 16-year old kid who’s walked out on his drunk, abusive father and hopped a train, in the tradition of the old-time hobos ridin’ the rails.

He doesn’t have much, but he has his freedom and has found a friendly local library where he’s allowed to sit and read to his he
Jan 02, 2011 Nic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of verse novels
Favourite Quote: "I'd go off alone, because you can't trust those who want to break the rules and you certainly can't trust those who make the rules, so you do the only thing possible, you avoid the rules."

Wow, I loved The Simple Gift. It is beautiful, touching and potent.

First off, The Simple Gift is written in verse. There is something about verse novels that resonates with me. Maybe because as a teen I often wrote my diaries in verse. I find sometimes simple words can capture so much emotion
Jul 21, 2011 Elise rated it really liked it
I was given this book by a teacher upon my leaving of highschool. This teacher was my LEAST favourite teacher and I was sure I wouldn't read it, but when I opened the cover I found the inscription:

"To Elise,
You were a wonderful student and the only one I know of that would appreciate a book."

Simple enough but it made me smile and so I gave the book a chance and I'm glad I did.
This was a wonderful read and I wish I still had the book so I could re-read it but it's been misplaced.
Kelly (Diva Booknerd)
The Simple Gift was simply that, absolutely brilliant. Written in free verse, it follows the lives of three separate individuals that find one another through circumstance, with sixteen year old Billy being at the center of the story. It was incredibly emotional, powerful and passionate. Not only does the storyline told in verse make The Simple Gift unique, it adds to the beauty and emotion. I'm an instant fan of Steven Herrick, and The Simple Gift has lef
Aug 05, 2016 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 00-standalone, 2016
Inhalt: Und wie ich mich abmühte, selbstsicher zu erscheinen. Und er antwortete: Ja, toll. Und ich sagte auch: Toll. Und danach machte ich mich wieder ans Wischen und versuchte zu wirken, als wenn nichts passiert wär, obwohl wir beide wussten, es war was passiert. Eine poetische Geschichte vom und zum Verlieben, übersetzt von Uwe-Michael Gutzschhahn. (Quelle: Verlag)
Meine Meinung: Mit Wir beide wussten, es war was passiert habe ich, ohne es zu wissen, zu einem ganz besonderen Buch gegriffen. Das
Jul 13, 2016 Buchdoktor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Billy Luckett hat die Nase voll vom Leben mit einem Alkoholiker als Vater und haut einfach ab aus einem Kaff im hintersten Winkel Australiens. Der Junge, einer der drei Icherzähler der Geschichte, will in Richtung Westen trampen, fort vom sichtbaren Verfall eines Viertels, in dem für immer liegen bleibt, was einmal kaputt gegangen ist. Billy ist im Herzen vermutlich Anarchist; denn er will nicht denen vertrauen, die die Regeln machen. Für dieses Ziel lässt der 16-Jährige sogar seinen Hund Bunkbr ...more
Sep 07, 2016 Maryam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this is the first novel I've read that's written in verse, I think I like it.

I don't read much Aussie novels (which I need to fix) so it was really nice to read about places I know like TAFE and Coles lol.

Really sweet yet sad story, and extremely easy and quick to read. Read it in an hour or maybe less (this needs to be my average reading time with all books:)).

I do think it gives a very idealistic image of homelessness but who cares it just strengthens the message.

The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick involves three main characters: sixteen year old Billy Luckett who leaves his alcoholic father and ends up in the fictional town of Bendarat. Caitlin Holmes, a seventeen year old who can’t wait to escape to university, and Old Bill, homeless by choice and trying his best to forget the past.

These three characters sound so different but essentially they are all good people. Billy helps Old Bill to repay the kindness he’s been shown in the past. Caitlin looks past
Mar 07, 2016 Karleeb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
We are studying this book with our year nines.
I enjoyed the story, and the language, and it was refreshing to read something about 'generosity' and 'friendship', rather than 'being an outsider' and 'grief' and 'prejudice'...
However, it is a pretty idealistic representation of homelessness. Herrick may have experienced a kind of romantic solitary-yet-spiritually-fulfilling version of no-fixed-addressness, but it's not a particularly realistic of teen homelessness in Australia. And maybe that's fi
Jul 27, 2015 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first verse novel I've ever read. And the first printed book in almost forever. I'll welcome more, especially from this author. What an absolute pleasure to sit down to a heartwarming story, simply told and brief enough to devour in one sitting.

I don't know how he does it with such brevity, and in such straightforward language, but Stephen Herrick brought three beautiful characters to life for me, conjuring flesh and blood off the printed page. He made me care for them deeply, mourn
The Simple Gift is an understated but emotionally involving book about a teenage boy living in rural Australia. He runs away from home to escape his abusive father and winds up homeless, sleeping in an old train carriage. The boy forms two touching relationships: the first is with an older homeless man who becomes a surrogate father to him, the second is with a bright teenage girl from a well-off family who longs for nothing more than to leave town. This second relationship blossoms into romance ...more
Jan 19, 2016 Lisa rated it really liked it
I read very little YA fiction but every now and again a book comes my way that takes my interest. The reissue of award-winning The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick interested me because I’d read Do-Wrong Ron by the same author to my Year 5 & 6 students. They loved it, and I admired the free verse form, perfect for reading aloud.

Well, The Simple Gift isn’t going to be okay for primary school students because it’s the coming-of-age story of homeless 16-year-old Billy who runs away to avoid an abu
julie bright
Dec 08, 2014 julie bright rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is very well written. It shows true love even in the oddest circumstances and it shows the hardships of being homeless. This young man gets on a train and goes to a new town where he has never been before to get away from his dad. He decides to do this because his dad is an alcoholic and he can't deal with that anymore. Once this teenage boy gets to this new town he meets a unbelievable girl that likes him even though he is homeless. This couple is the oddest indeed, but they really sh ...more
Bücherschmöker Blog
Mein erster Gedanke: nur 69 Seiten? Ja ihr lest richtig. Wir wussten, es war was passiert ist nicht besonders lang, aber das braucht es auch gar nicht. Die einzelnen Kapitel sind in Abschnitte unterteilt, die entweder aus Billys, Old Bills oder Caitlins Sicht geschildert werden und sind in Versform verfasst. Keine Angst, es handelt sich jetzt nicht um seitenlange Reime! Es liest sich wie eine normale Geschichte, kommt aber ohne viele Worte aus. Die Worte reichen, um das Wichtigste hervorzuheben ...more
Bree T
Billy is sixteen and is about to voluntarily become homeless. Life with his abusive father has become more than he can bear and one night he packs some belongings into a backpack and leaves his home and dog behind. He attempts to hitch at first, not having much luck in poor weather and ends up riding on a freight train heading west.

He ends up in the town of Bendarat where his days begin to follow a pattern. He sleeps in a disused rail car at the train station siding yard and each day he treks to
Mar 02, 2014 Zoe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
My sister has read this for year 12 English and I was curious about what schools have kids reading these days so she leant it to me. It's an intriguing story about a young boy named Billy. He leaves his abusive father and starts his new life as a 16 year old homeless person. He meets Caitlin, a rich girl, and Old Bill, who has his own reasons for homelessness. Their collision changes the way they each see the world. I thought it was a lovely story and enjoyed the fact it was written in free vers ...more
Paige Alana
Apr 02, 2014 Paige Alana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Breathtakingly beautiful!! Herrick's understanding of humanity, generosity and love makes this books a gorgeous piece of literature. The structure of the novel, being written in verse, helps to convey the simplicity of life and makes the over all ambience of the novel absolutely stunning. The intersecting of the main characters lives, as well as those they meet throughout the novel (Irene and Ernie), demonstrate beautifully how we are affected by the ones around us and how simple kind gestures c ...more
Therese Ferguson
Oct 16, 2016 Therese Ferguson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: standalone
I nearly threw this book out without reading it because I did not know it was in verse and not prose. I hate poetry in any form, but I made an exception and read it. I was hooked from the first poem. It had a clear story that was easy to follow and had me in tears at times. It was quite a sad story with a happy ending. It was about homelessness and loss and young love, which I can relate to on all levels unfortunately. It was a beautiful story and read like a story, not poetry. I would not hesit ...more
Dec 23, 2014 Annushka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Had to read The Simple Gift for school and let me tell you, I LOVED this book! Fantastic story line, likeable characters and the story developed really well. There was great character development, at the start, Billy didn’t know what to do with his life, but by the end of the book, he had created a good life for him. He had a job, a temporary house, and most importantly, people who loved and cared for him. I thought the use of short poems was a really good idea. It aloud me to really fly through ...more
Joy (joyous reads)
Aug 23, 2011 Joy (joyous reads) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aussie
I’ve been a fan of books written in verse ever since I discovered Lisa Schroeder. They’re typically fast reads – short but powerful, nonetheless.

Well, The Simple Gift was no different. It’s about Billy, who chose to be homeless rather than remain at home and be his own father’s punching bag. He ended up in a Freight Yard where he met Old Bill, a fellow hobo. He also found Caitlin, a rich girl who found what she was looking for in the person of Billy. Though all three characters were unforgettab
Michael Santiago
The author of The Simple Gift is Steven Herrick and it is 188 pages long. The title made me wonder what "the gift" is and why it would matter to the everyday life of poeple. It hooked me to read the book. I think the title does fit the meaning of the boook because "the simple gift" is something that the main character has always desired and never got until now. On page 144, Bill, Caitlin, and Old Bill had just finished having a big dinner and conversating they have enjoyed. They had such a good ...more
Luis Suarez
The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick was one of my favorite stories. It was a great book. Caitlin, Old bill, and Billy have a connection and it makes the story be beautiful. Billy and Old Bill,even though they sound alike, are just two hobos connected thanks to destination. When Billy runs out of home, because he was tired of his dad being an alcoholic mistreating him all the time, he meets old bill. Both live together and create a great friendship. Then, Billy meets Caitlin, yes he is a lucky guy. ...more
Donna Caldwell
The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick was one of my favorite stories. It was a great book. Caitlin, Old bill, and Billy have a connection and its makes you want to engage into the story from the very first page. Billy and Old Bill,are to differnt people even though they sound a like , if it was not for fate they would not have never been united together .When Billy runs away from home, because he was tired of his dad being an alcoholic mistreating him all the time, he meets old bill. they Both live ...more
Nov 19, 2011 Julia rated it it was ok
Recommended to Julia by: Susan Taggart
I've decided to write a collection of poems for my final project of my year 12 Extension 2 English class and consequently I've been reading as much poetry as I can get my hands on. One of my English teachers recommended this book and the rest of Steven Herrick's novels as an example of prose poetry and free verse. I've read other works written in such a way including the novels of Ellen Hopkins and I've always enjoyed the style. I find that the truly great writers are the ones that can say more ...more
Setting as it affects plot

The book the simple gift has multiple settings. The settings are Billy’s school, the train, the library, and Billy’s father house. Billy did live with his father until he left away. Billy left away because his father was abusive .I believe this story is in the 20th or 21st century. I say this because when Billy was in the library he said “Since I was in a library I might as well enjoy me a book, perhaps a book about teens.”

Back in the day, I don’t think that people wr
I had to read this book for Year Ten in school. It was touching, and unconventional; though the free prose felt a little superficial. The whole story was so sad - and the tone was very depressing. And while the relationship between Billy and Caitlin was sweet, it wasn't altogether completely clean.

What I did like about this book was how it stripped away all the judging attitudes that are common today. It made me see that sometimes people judge so much by looks, by wealth, whether you have a roo
Julee T
Jun 20, 2015 Julee T rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novel written in verse overcomes three problems for reluctant readers: lengthy descriptions, long chapters and referencing page numbers for discussion. The free verse is charming and cuts to the heart of what matters in the story. The collection of poems into chapters adds additional structure as a narrative. The characters are endearing and relatable. I liked this free verse novel because it sells the benefits of reaching out to others; no matter how hard Billy's life is he never considers cl ...more
Rebecca Ly
Dec 02, 2015 Rebecca Ly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this when I was in high school, it's a nice tale and the shortness of the book made reading a little bit more palatable... particularly to the non-readers in my class. Not a favorite of mine, though I am giving it five stars because of the fact that it told a story in very little words.
Amber Myott
Feb 10, 2015 Amber Myott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I initially started this book as it was my sons year 9 novel & I wanted to help him.What a wonderful book this turned out to be !! Tells us that tragedy does happen to good people people but how it can be overcome with love and belief in others . Can be read in a day if you have the time ... A must read !
Louise (A Strong Belief in Wicker)
I'm so glad that I got to discover Steven Herrick this year. He has given me an appreciation for the verse novel- something I couldn't grasp before. I think he will be one of my favourite finds for 2014.

« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 60 61 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Jinx
  • Raw
  • Head of the River
  • Hugging the Rock
  • Jarvis 24
  • When You Wake and Find Me Gone
  • Just Macbeth
  • Out of This Place
  • Only Ever Always
  • Deadly, Unna?
  • Days Like This
  • Five Parts Dead
  • The Protected
  • Touching Earth Lightly
  • Being Here
  • Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight
  • Nona & Me
  • Losing It

Share This Book