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

The Good Thief

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  11,714 ratings  ·  1,988 reviews
Winner of the 2008 John Sargent, Sr. First Novel Prize * A Washington Post Best Book of 2008 * A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2008

Richly imagined and gothically spooky, The Good Thief introduces one of the most appealing young heroes in contemporary fiction and ratifies Hannah Tinti as one of our most exciting talents writing today.

Twelve year-old Ren is missing hi
Paperback, 327 pages
Published August 11th 2009 by Dial Press Trade Paperbacks (first published 2008)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Good Thief, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Kevin MIddle school administrators in both MA and PA though so, as both made it required reading for our two older children.
MIddle school administrators in both MA and PA though so, as both made it required reading for our two older children.
Valerie Prosser
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,714 ratings  ·  1,988 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Good Thief
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Somewhere in the 1800’s in New England, a monastery was established with a statue on the grounds of St. Anthony, the patron saint of the recovery of anything lost. The monastery became an orphanage and also a winery. Some of the ‘lost’ children may have been recovered by family, but some were adopted, and others who were deemed too old for adoption were conscripted into the army.

Ren is one of the many orphans or unwanted babies who are passed through the small door affixed to the main entrance a
Apr 05, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who hate themselves
Don't believe anyone who tells you anything good about this book. The reviews on the back cover will be the first lies you'll have to ignore. This book belongs in a trash can. You should thank me, because I've done the hard work of reading it so you don't have to.

The Good Thief (aka, The Bad Book) is meant to be a historical fiction novel for adults that tells the coming-of-age story of a 12 year-old orphan boy who learns to live with a pair of rough and tumble thieves in early 1800s America. So
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jaline's wonderful reiview of this book reminded me that I had read it when first published and before I set up my GR account. Copletely agree with Jaline. It has an amazing Dickensian narrative and feel to it. I must read this again! 5 stars. ...more
Sep 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a book I saw Richard Russo recommend in an interview. I’m glad I made a note of it. How can you not like a story about a smart, one-handed orphan kid and his adventures with a cast of mysterious lowlifes in the 1800’s? Tinti tells it well. She managed to sneak in some thoughts on loyalty, commitment and morality, too. The pages turned all too well, even as I was dodging fellow commuters on my walk to work.
Aug 04, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hannah Tinti’s The Good Thief well deserves (and even invites) comparison with classic riproaring nineteenth-century adventure tales and orphan narratives. With an action-packed plot and a skillfully created universe, Tinti pulls her readers in to a story about stories—a tale in which the tale-tellers have power to create and re-create the past, all the while manipulating their futures.

Ren, missing a hand and a history, falls swiftly into the world of Benjamin Nab, who claims to be Ren’s older b
Celeste Ng
A recent piece in the New York Times asked whether adult women could ever read like girls: fully immersed, draped over any convenient surface, oblivious to the outside world, glued to the book in hand. This is a book that made me read like a girl. I haven't enjoyed a book so fully since I was about 12. ...more
Jan 07, 2010 rated it did not like it
I can not believe that this book was even published let alone that it won an award that gained the author ten grand. I think it may be the worst book I have ever read.

The writing was sophomoric, if that advanced. There was no character development there was no logic, and there was no context to the ridiculous and absurd story. There is nothing in this tale that makes any sense whatsoever.

The author has failed to create anything realistic in this story. She offers details that might give the read
Dennis Willingham
Nov 05, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2009, fiction
To seriously compare this to Dickens, Twain or Stevenson is like saying Taco Bell is great Mexican food. Dickensian in that there are unexpected, hidden benefactors and dangerous, illegal undertakings by a young orphan but it's shallow as a dishpan, don't expect any scope or depth. I found this in the new book section of my library, maybe it should have been in the teens or kids section. (I would say it was written to a junior high level) Never could figure out what the era of the book was, one ...more
Jul 23, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This has lots of memorable characters and is chock full of violent and horrific plot points. Ultimately, I didn't feel that the narrative held together cohesively enough for me to highly recommend the book to other readers. I wanted to understand better why the main character Ren was so drawn to Dolly, the giant murderer or to Mrs. Sands. Why wasn't Mrs. Sands' dwarf brother's character more developed? What was the motivation behind the mousetrap girl known as Harelip's helping Benjamin and Ren? ...more
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
Definitely a young adult novel, although not billed as such.
This is like a cross between a Charles Dickens hard luck tale and a Stephen King creepfest. There's a chunk in the middle where it dwells too long on the grave-robbing antics, but otherwise it's quite entertaining.
Worth reading just for the weird characters. There's Dolly(man with woman's name), the giant murderer who sleeps underneath the mattress. And Mrs. Sands, the very tall landlady who says everything at maximum volume, even whe
Book Concierge
Twelve-year-old Ren is an orphan with a missing hand. How he lost that hand is a mystery, as he was abandoned at Saint Anthony’s Orphanage for boys when he was an infant, without any note or identifying marks, save for embroidered REN inside the gown he was wearing. Occasionally a man will come to choose a boy, but Ren is never chosen. Until one day when a man appears, claiming to be Ren’s brother. Benjamin’s plausible story of how Ren lost his hand convinces Father John and Ren leaves the orpha ...more
joyce g
Aug 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful tale with beautifully crafted characters. Just plain wonderful
It is New England sometime in the 1800’s. St. Anthony’s monastery is a de facto orphanage for lost boys. It smells of boiled fish, and the orphaned boys who live there are lice ridden and perpetually hungry. Ren was left on the grounds there as a wee baby, found wrapped in a blanket and missing his left hand. Now a young lad of ten or so, he and his fellow orphans have been raised after a fashion by Brother Joseph, who direly portends that bad luck always follows anything that’s good, bad things ...more
Steven Walle
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Good Thief was an excellent read. In it a boy of just a few weeks of age was brought to an orphanage called ST. Anthony's. Here he grew up being badly abused by the Father and dreaming of the day he would be adopted. This young man was deformed, however. His Mother had cut his hand off so it made it almost impossible for him to be adopted.
Finally he was adopted and lived a crazy dangerous life style as a thief and grave robber. I will not tell the ending but it was amazing. I recommend all
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ren is 12, lives in an orphanage and is missing one hand. He has no hope for leaving the orphanage until he is enlisted in the military. Until a man who claims to be his brother comes for him. Chaos and adventures ensue. It was a very satisfying read.
Aug 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that was almost oversold by the incredible praise on the cover. With comparisons to Dickens and Twain in the same breath, I was prepared to be disappointed by Hannah Tinti's debut novel, The Good Thief. However, I found that the characters and plot were compelling and she merits some of the comparison. The book feels Dickensian with it's one-handed, orphan hero, Ren who is whisked away from the monastic orphanage into a life of grave-robbing and thievery all while attempting to do ...more
Jan 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gr-giveaways
many thanks to the gr giveaways program for this free book.

let me just say that i don't read historical adventures. like, ever. i just don't. so you see, this is very anomalous for me. when i entered the giveaway i must have heard terrific things about this book because i don't read historical adventures. petty thieves, highwaymen, hardscrabble robbers, little orphans, and horse and carriages are simply not in my libidinal purview. but then....

then, i started this book and finished it in like tw
Jul 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2008, august
Ren had no memory of his life before St. Anthony's. The only clues to his past is the initials REN sewn into the collar of his nightshirt and his missing left hand. One day a stranger, Benjamin Nab, comes to St. Anthony's looking for him, claiming to be his older brother, and reeling off a story of high adventure that explains both how Ren lost his hand and the reason he was left at St. Anthony's. However, Ren soon discovers that Benjamin Nab is not at all who he claims to be, but instead is a s ...more
Charlene Intriago
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this book. Set in New England in the late 1800s, Ren is a 12 year old boy who was left in an orphanage when he was an infant and is missing his left hand. One day a man named Benjamin Nab comes to claim him telling a wild tale about how Ren is his long, lost brother. The friars have no idea if the story is true, but they don't mind getting rid of one more orphan - so Ren is out the door with Benjamin Nab. Benjamin and his partner Tom are pretty much ...more
 Linda (Miss Greedybooks)
I was not sure about this book, but I did enjoy it. I liked the rough around the edges characters, the genuine friendships, the false appearing friendships. It was a story that never seemed to falter following the hard lives of the times. It was not totally predictable and kept my interest until the end.
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. It was heartwarming. I couldn't put it down, I wanted to know what would happen next. A favorite for sure. ...more
This was a random pick from the library because the cover caught my eye. I'm glad it did — Hannah Tinti's debut novel is very readable, and superior to most YA fiction, but part of its problem is that the author couldn't seem to quite decide whether this was YA or not. You will see a lot of reviewers comparing it to Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson, mainly because it's about a hard-luck orphan (missing a hand for as long as he can remember) who embarks upon a fantastic if rather dark and creep ...more
Ron Charles
Aug 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It may be too quaint to imagine there are still families reading aloud together at night (so many Web sites, so little time), but if you're out there, consider Hannah Tinti's charming first novel. Set in the dark woods of 19th-century New England, The Good Thief follows a bright, one-handed orphan through enough harrowing scrapes and turns to satisfy your inner Dickens. That Tinti is the young co-founder and editor of super-hip One Story magazine makes the arrival of this old-fashioned adventure ...more
Ashley Davault
I can’t believe this book only received 3 stars. This is a 5 star novel. Every character is distinguishable and memorable, I find myself still thinking about them.
Jan 11, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I learned nothing from this frivolous stupid story about people I didn't care about and I hate it when the end of a book is sugar-coated, dipped in chocolate, blasted with high-furctose corn syrup and dusted in sparkly confectioners' sugar all before wrapping it up in a fancy, neat little bow. YUCK!!! I can't believe this book is being marketed to adults. If it wasn't about grave robbers and drunken binges, it could be marketed as YA fiction...but even my 18 year old niece would have found this ...more
Jul 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-books
This Dickensian adventure story of an orphan boy who makes good by teaming up with a pair of grave robbers is a bit bleak in the telling, but more than makes up for it in the happily-ever-after ending (which is still realistic). Colorful characters enliven the 18th century setting and help the small bedraggled hero make his way in a confusing adult world. Accessible prose and a good eye for historical detail made the pages fly!
Sharon Huether
Dec 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
I won this Free book through Goodreads First-Reads.
A little child with a missing hand is left at the gate of St. Anthony's Orphanage.
As time passed Ren (the child with one hand) is visited by Benjamin Nab who claims to be is Uncle.
They take off on an incredible adventure, living by their wit, words and thievery. Benjamin knows the past and the present.
Good fortune comes to Ren, when he least expected it.
Jan 06, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had read a couple of good reviews about this book but it didn't live up to my expectations. I almost abandoned it when it didn't draw me in during the first chapters. I did complete it and I did become more interested in the story as it went on. It has an assortment of colorful characters and I was rooting for the main character by the end. ...more
Feb 12, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Another book I was forced to read because of a book club. If I read one more review that compares Tinti to Charles Dickens or Robert Louis Stevenson, I'm gonna...well, I guess I just mentioned them too. I agree with one reviewer who said that it seems that Tinti couldn't decide whether to make this a young adult or adult novel. It feels more adult than young adult, but doesn't go far enough to shed that young adult audience. It was a fairly dark book, all things considered, but remained light he ...more
Gail Harcourt-Brown
Despite all the rave reviews, I found this book to be only so-so. Hannah Tinti's prose is excellent, and she certainly paints vivid scenes and characters. However, we've seen a good many of these characters before, in other books: the innocent Oliver Twist like orphan taken in by thieves; the wiley, intelligent, and good-looking thief/con-man and his drunken sidekick; the giant with the deadly hands and the heart/mind of a child, fiercely loyal to the boy who has befriended him; the motherly inn ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: The Good Thief / Hannah Tinti - 2** 1 8 Oct 28, 2019 05:25PM  
Did anyone else have trouble liking this book? 10 64 Jan 11, 2014 01:49PM  
Interview with Hannah Tinti, Author of "The Good Thief" 2 51 Oct 24, 2012 06:24PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: This topic has been closed to new comments. The Good Thief 1 2 Jan 21, 2012 12:15PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Great Man
  • Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer
  • The Master
  • Sag Harbor
  • Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome as Me
  • The Emperor of Any Place
  • Full Ride
  • Mrs. Fraser on the Fatal Shore
  • From Your Head to Your Toes
  • The Memories We Keep
  • The Princess and The Pawn (The Raven and the Dove, #0.5)
  • The Missing Diary (Mouseford Academy #2)
  • A Mouseford Musical (Mouseford Academy #6)
  • Thea Stilton and the Missing Myth (Thea Stilton #20)
  • Mouselets in Danger (Mouseford Academy #3)
  • Thea Stilton and the Frozen Fiasco (Thea Stilton #25)
  • Thea Stilton and the Madagascar Madness (Thea Stilton #24)
  • The Fortress of Solitude
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Hannah Tinti grew up in Salem, Massachusetts, and is co-founder and editor-in-chief of One Story magazine. Her short story collection, ANIMAL CRACKERS, has sold in sixteen countries and was a runner-up for the PEN/Hemingway award. Her first novel, THE GOOD THIEF, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, recipient of the American Library Association's Alex Award, and winner of the Center for ...more

News & Interviews

We all want to spend more time lost in the pages of great books. That's the idea behind our annual 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge! It's...
77 likes · 9 comments
“When death comes, she said, all that matters is this: to be next to one another. My mother was wearing a silk dress, and as she pressed her fingers into his, all of my father's adventures and hard living melted away. He knew that he had met the woman he would love until he couldn't love anymore.” 12 likes
“Is that what you wanted to hear?"
The man reached over, took hold of the lantern and blew it out. Night enveloped the barn. "Well," he said at last to the darkness between them, "that's when you know it's the truth.”
More quotes…