The Grift: A Novel
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The Grift: A Novel

3.19 of 5 stars 3.19  ·  rating details  ·  713 ratings  ·  176 reviews
Marina Marks has been on the grift since she was a child, forced into the psychic business by a junkie mother who was always willing to use her daughter to scam an extra buck. But when Marina wakes up one day with the actual ability to see the future, she finds her freedom–and her life–in danger. After predicting a murder exactly as it happens, Marina becomes the sole susp...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 4th 2009 by Broadway Books (first published 2008)
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Lena
Debra Ginsberg's tightly written suspense novel tells the story of a fraudulent psychic, her hopeful, yet needy clientele, and the collision of their lives in a disturbing turn of events that even she couldn't see coming.

At the novel's opening, Marina Marks has been working with retired old ladies in Florida when threats from her more voodoo-inclined competition encourage her to relocate to New Age-friendly Southern California. There, she establishes lucrative relationships with customers includ...more
Dina Roberts
Marina, the protagonist in this novel, is like Whoopi Goldberg's character in Ghost . She's a fake psychic...a con artist. Or so she thinks. She fakes it and makes money that way. Then later her real powers come to the surface. She sees dead people and she sees the secrets of the living.

I wanted to like this story, and I did to some degree. But I wish I liked it more.

I think it's biggest problem is it jumped around in time. I felt disoriented. In one scene, Marina meets a mysterious man who may...more
Diane
I was in the mood for a psychological thriller when I saw The Grift, by Debra Ginsberg in the NEW Books section of my library. I decided to give it a try.

In this newly released book with a cleaver premise, the author mixes the supernatural along with some mystery.

Marina Marks is an emotionally damaged young woman who has worked as a psychic since she was a young child. As a child, she used her ability to help support her junkie mother, and now as an adult, to support herself. Initially Marina do...more
Stephen Parrish
Marina Marks doesn't believe in fortune telling, instead she sees herself as a counselor, one who uses her intuition and sharp observation skills to dupe clients into returning for more sessions and spending yet more money. After all, the bills must be paid. The past catches up to her, however, and reminiscent of the character Whoopie Goldberg played in the movie "Ghost," Marina's life changes abruptly when she discovers she can, in fact, predict the future.

Marina is far from stereotypical: she...more
Gail
There's only one letter difference between grift and gift. Marina learns that difference in a life changing events. Raised by her addicted mother on the streets, Marina learned to save herself from child molesters (her mother's boyfriends and drug dealers) by adopting the persona of a spooky fortune teller. Using tells and signals from others, she became adept at reading people and making a living. Even so, she has a code of ethics about how much money she will extract from people. Marina also k...more
Shelah
I'd love to read a little bit about how book covers are designed, because I picked up The Grift on the basis of its cover (I like the font and the dotted border and the way the "r" is dropped down from the rest of the word) and its location on one of the tables at the front of the library. When I got home, I saw that it had 4 1/2 stars on Amazon, so I packed it in the bag I brought to the hospital, and it kept me occupied while Isaac and I sat around at PCMC.

Occupied, but not exactly entertained...more
Alea
I'm not totally certain how I feel about this book. I liked it but at the same time I felt sort indifferent. I found the story so so serious that it almost became stressful. I would have liked some lighter elements or a bit of humor to counterbalance all the seriousness and all the character's flaws and drama.

Of all the characters and relationships I think I liked Marina and the mysterious Gideon's relationship the most. I would have loved to see that explored even more than it was. I'm very gla...more
Yona
-Story took so long to build. It's basically all back story until past the halfway mark.

-That building was done with an over-reliance on flashback and summary, when present-time action would have been possible and BETTER.

-Some of those summaries happened twice, because it happened from multiple characters' perspectives. These added nothing for me--I already knew that had happened, thank you.

-I did appreciate how each character had his or her own distinct voice.

-That said, I didn't really care fo...more
Cassandra
Interesting premise that was let down by a lukewarm, lightly drawn cast of characters. Have never known or cared less about a main character. The third quarter of the book had more spunk, but overall a boring tale. Was able to read this while taking oxycodone, so I recommend this for the addled or drug-induced reader. Also appropriate for the airplane. Nice cover art and typeface.
John
Really liked it, but it lost me a few times. The story is as much about the people who seek out the psychic, as the psychic herself.
Lauren
Grift (noun) - a group of methods for obtaining money falsely through the use of swindles, frauds, dishonest gambling, etc.

Ever since she was a child, this is what Marina Marks did. Her method : being a "psychic." She learned the most common methods, tarot and palm reading, and used them to make money. First, for her mother, to support her habits, then to support herself later on. Realistically, she doesn't have any psychic gift, just knowledge of the tarot, what the lines on the palm mean, and...more
Jean
The Grift kept my interest throughout. The characters are well developed and Ginsberg gets into their heads beautifully. She presents alternating perspectives which allows one to stay interested in the characters although most were seriously flawed.

Madeline, is a georgeous money grubber and her older husband, Andrew is mean with a great deal of anger. Max and Cooper are a gay couple, however Max wants to be heterosexual and Cooper is insanely in love with
him.

Eddie is a married womanizer who is...more
Judy
May 21, 2010 Judy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: a reader in need of a quick, light book for a change
Recommended to Judy by: Debra Ginsberg; heard her speak.
I really liked Debra Ginsberg's first novel, Blind Submission, which is set in the book publishing world. In The Grift, she enters the fortune telling trade. You know: palm readings, tarot cards, psychic counselors, etc. in contemporary times.

Marina Marks, raised by a single mom strung out on drugs, was pushed into the psychic business by that very mother at a young age. It was a way to keep money coming in. By the time she is an adult and her mother has died, giving readings is the only skill M...more
Nikki
I'm glad the library had this on their "featured books" shelf, or I may not have heard about it. The Grift is about a fake psychic who becomes a real psychic, and it involves a set of complex connections and interactions between her and a set of clients she meets at a party.

The book is strong on character. You end up liking and disliking just about everyone, and I found myself caring about them all, which is really what makes or breaks a book for me.

I wish, though, that it had examined more th...more
Terri
Really enjoyed this one! It was the cover that got me initially, and I'm glad I picked it up. Marina is making a living as an “intuitive counselor" (fake psychic). She doesn't believe in being psychic, but is very good at picking up tells and giving her clients what they want to hear. For about half the book, we get to know Marina and a few of her main clients, then the poop hits the fan, and people's lives begin to unravel. While it's not her fault, Marina's input was not helpful. She on the ot...more
Carrie
Last year, I read Debra Ginsberg’s memoir, About My Sisters. As a woman who also has three sisters, the memoir resonated with me, and has stuck with me since then. When asked to review Ms. Ginsberg’s latest novel, The Grift, I was happy to oblige.

The Grift is the story of Marina Marks, a woman working in Florida as a psychic. She doesn’t believe in psychic abilities, but she uses her keen observation skills and intuition about human relationships to tell her clients what they want to hear. She m...more
Trin
Starts out as an interesting book about a con woman, Marina, whose excellent skills at reading people make her a fantastic fake psychic. She sets up in a wealthy Southern California town, where she encounters a lot of rich people with assorted rich people problems, some of which may escalate...to MURDER! Dun dun dun.

Actually, all of that is quite fun, although even in its earliest parts, this novel does suffer from too many POV characters and a bit too much jumping around in time. Where it reall...more
Rtriptow
Oct 11, 2008 Rtriptow rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rtriptow by: NY Times
A NY Times review made this sound like a gripping mystery written in the Shirley Jackson style. The story is about a phony psychic who suddenly develops real clairvoyance and can't cope with it. Meanwhile, a murder takes place -- ooooh!

The Grift was pretty interesting, I read it through to the end, but there wasn't too much mystery to it. I knew where the plot was going as soon as all the major characters had been introduced. This is a problem I have with any kind of "whodunnit," so for me the b...more
Lynne
Good premise, not so good book. The interesting part was how a psychic conducts her business--how she examines people to get clues about them so she can know what to give them at their "reading." The uninteresting part was how unbelievable some of the plot was. The author skips from various character's point of view, then drops entire sections of time. The appearance (and subsequent death) of the boyfriend was really not plausible either. A man shows up and watches you for a day, then accosts yo...more
Sarallyn
The biggest fault in this book is the title. It gives the impression that the "Grift" plays a central role in the plot. It doesn't. It adds meaning and nuance, but it is someone else's actions and not the heroines that drive the mystery in the story. Also, and this is small, never were crows or ravens mentioned in the story. Other than my own disappointment over the irrelevance of the entire cover, I enjoyed the story well enough.
Carol
What if you are pretending to be a psychic and then you realize that you actually have real psychic powers? That's one of the plot lines explored in "The Grift." It's a fast and gripping read about a psychic who gets tangled up in the lives of her clients. I don't know if I'd call it a mystery exactly, but a quick and easy read, and nicely written.
Kristi
Marina has been shilling as a psychic ever since she was a small child and her drug addicted mother decided to make money off her daughter. Marina knew the tools of her trade and she knew people. She was really good at what she did, but she didn't know love. But when love strikes, so does REAL psychic ability and Marina is left reeling. All the skills she learned before are useless and her rich and powerful clientele get angry. Very angry. In fact, angry enough to kill. And now, Marina wants to...more
Angelic
I enjoyed this read and intend to read more of Ginsberg's writing. I really like that she has also written memoir. The story lagged a little in the middle for me, but it grabbed and kept my attention for the majority of the story and I cried a little in the end. Ginsberg does a wonderful job of weaving several character's stories into each other without losing the reader or chopping of the flow of the book. This book was about a psychic and I really enjoyed that - it wasn't a subject I'd read in...more
Julie
Jan 12, 2011 Julie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
Often I choose a book by its cover. I saw The Grift and was immediately drawn to the cover. It seemed mysterious, gothic and unique. The first several chapters were just that and I blew threw them. The last half of the book read much like any chick lit book which was disappointing.

I did enjoy the author's style of writing. She was very detailed and because the story was mostly based in San Diego, I knew her details were dead on. My experience with psychics and tarot cards is non-existent but bec...more
Scilla
I wasn't sure I'd like this book in the beginning, but it was quite good - perhaps a 3.5. Marina, a psychic daughter of an unwed woman was working in Florida at the beginning of the book. A client gives her a ruby ring on a chain to protect her son. Soon after, Marina moves to California. When she thinks about perhaps returning the ring, the number has been dropped. Among Marina's clients are Madeleine, the trophy wife whose husband wants an heir and hates Marina's influence on his wife; a haird...more
Margaret
An unusual novel about a psychic, Marina, who half way through the story develops actual psychic abilities (or discovers that she has them) - to that point Marina wasn't an actual believer in psychic ability, so this development takes her by not-happy surprise. The story is intertwined with Marina and certain of her clients, and the book overall has a mixture of tones: old-fashioned gothic, humor, romance, mystery, a twinge of horror. Author Debra Ginsberg is a wonderfully talented writer. While...more
Cami
Oct 27, 2009 Cami rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: general-fiction
2.5 stars
It's been awhile since I read a real page turner and this was one. The main character, a psychic who runs a profitable grift, named Marina, was interesting and I was very interested to see the direction her life would take. Her story was very satisfying, she was by far the most moral character of the bunch...

However, I cannot recommend this book to others. A lot of sex (the kind that makes a gal like me squirm just skimming over it) and a lot of LOSERS! As a psychic, Marina attracts a l...more
Julia
Marina Marks' junkie mom has the idea to have her daughter con people with psychic readings to keep her in drugs. A childhood complete with a tattoo of all the zodiac on her back, Marina continues to make her living as a "psychic" as an adult, never staying in one area very long. One last move, she thinks, from FL to CA and after a couple years, she hopes to "retire". Enter some very needy clients that Marina intuitively counsels, a love interest and the sudden realization that Marina really can...more
Cindy Pierce
I literally, and I do not use that word lightly, could not put this book down. The story grabbed me from the start and didn't let go until the very end. I discovered this book on my book a day calendar yesterday and was intrigued. I checked out the reviews on goodreads, which were okay, then headed straight to Amazon to download it to my kindle. The intertwining of the lives of the characters is at the same time simple and delicate and incredibly complex. I was expecting a good read, three stars...more
Sheela
This book was suprisingly good. I was expecting a predictable, run-of-the-mill mystery story, but this novel about a psychic involved in a murder scandal, was interesting and well thought-out. The main character is a psychic, who at first uses intuitive reasoning with her clients, then gains the actual powers of ESP. The beginning of the novel was great because of all the observations she makes with her clients using basic intuition. The last half of the novel dragged a little, and the story was...more
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Debra M. Ginsberg is a London born, American author. She is the author of three memoirs as well as two novels. Her first memoir Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress was published by HarperCollins Publishers in 2000, followed by Raising Blaze: A Mother and Son's Long, Strange Journey Into Autism, which chronicled her longtime struggle to get her son the education he was entitled to.

Find Debr...more
More about Debra Ginsberg...
Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress Blind Submission The Neighbors Are Watching Raising Blaze: Bringing Up an Extraordinary Son in an Ordinary World What the Heart Remembers

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