Teen's Reviews > The Good Thief

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti
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Mar 04, 09

bookshelves: action-adventure, audience-boy, audience-adult, audience-h-s
Read in March, 2009

A dark, atmospheric adventure yarn in the style of Robert Lewis Stevenson and Mark Twain. Ren is a 12 year-old orphan who arrived at St. Anthony's Orphanage for boys as a young child and missing his left hand. He's been trying to solve the mystery of its loss and his parentage ever since. When Benjamin Nab arrives at the orphanage and claims Ren as his younger brother, Ren thinks he might start to learn some answers about his past. But Benjamin is not who he seems, and Ren has many adventures, some of them macabre, meeting several strange and violent characters (that come almost straight from the pages of a Dickens novel) before he learns where he came from and who he really is.

Given many scenes of graphic violence and disturbing imagery (Benjamin and his crony Tom are "resurrection men," or grave-diggers who sell freshly buried bodies to doctors), The Good Thief is probably not the best choice for younger and middle readers, although they seem to be a natural audience for this kind of story. I'm not exactly sure what the teen audience is for this book -- I think it's more for adults who are nostalgic for the classic adventure books of their youth. Although it's set sometime in 19th-century New England, The Good Thief will probably not appeal to historical fiction readers because it lacks many specific historical details. I would booktalk it to the right audience, and handsell to the right teen, but I wouldn't include it when doing a bunch of booktalks to a general audience.

A 2009 Alex Award Winner and NYT Notable Book of 2008. Starred review from Kirkus (! I expected a bit more snark) and favorable review from PW. NOT reviewed by any library or school review source.
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