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The Simple Gift

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  1,165 ratings  ·  151 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
Paperback, 188 pages
Published May 1st 2004 by Simon Pulse (first published January 4th 2000)
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Brittney Faye No. No is too short apparently.
Brittney Faye
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3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,165 ratings  ·  151 reviews

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Jul 18, 2016 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 h
Jan 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 06, 2016 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.
Jul 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
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

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
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
Jul 03, 2016 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
Alexander Christopoulos
The book that we had to read for english for year 8 was the simple gift. It was a very unique book in general. The book didn't build up very well as there was a lot more energy at the start. I like the idea of having a poem format, it was good to see that the writer chose to do something different. For me personally, this isn't the best book that it possibly can be. I did like the ending of the book however just didn't excite me like books that have a good storyline. It lacked in a lot of descri ...more
Jul 26, 2016 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
Jett O'Brien
So this was my first time reading this book and I found I have never read one of his books, this was an interesting book but that doesn't mean that it is good in my opinion. this book definitely wasn't for me. it was a bit depressing reading about old bill, and that put me off a bit.
I would highly recommend this book if you like heartwarming and sad books.

Lachlan Stewart
Apr 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
alright but not bad.
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brittney Faye
Oct 16, 2017 rated it did not like it

I purchased 'The Simple Gift' when I undertook my HSC a few years ago as it was the prescribed text. There was a reason my English classes' nick name for it was: "The Simple Text".

The story centers on a young man dealing with the disenfranchisement of public school, abuse at home, and chooses to become homeless in order to escape.

For many young people homelessness i
May 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: quality-ya
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
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it
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
Sarah Fairbairn
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: want-to-re-read
Oh Steven Herrick I have fallen in love with your writing! I read Another Night in Mullet Town, then Slice and now The Simple Gift = I am hooked.

The Simple Gift was beautiful. I actually hugged the book at the end.

This is a story of friendship and second chances, of healing and new love. Caitlin, Billy & Old Bill; three people from different walks of life brought together by circumstance with the result being that they all end up making each other’s life better.
Eli Kallies
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Billy is a sixteen-year-old young boy who runs away from his abusive father. First, he packed his bags and hits the roads. Billy comes to a small town called Bendarat where he learns how to find food and survive. He finds a home in an abandoned freight train outside a small town. He soon meets Old Bill who is also homeless. Old Bill gives advice to Billy and tells him about his past. Billy than meets Caitlin who Billy soon falls deeply in love with. Old Bill gives Billy a gift that will change h ...more
James Semenov
May 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm not a fan of free verse poetry. The story line of Billy's life was somewhat sad. Even the people he encountered were sad. The main concept of making people happy with small gestures was spirit lifting (for the characters). Billy carried the story. He was like the glue that held everyone together and in some ways, turned their lives around. I felt like the author was writing from personal experience because the language and ideas used, were very personal.
Kerri Green
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wonderful. Many thematic ideas that come out of this book. Great for exploring and deconstructing. My second free verse novel and much better than the last one. the cross between the modes was achieved fluently and with dedicated purpose in terms of using poetic form to define character voice, concepts and ideas.
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is quite a nice little book. There are some good gentle lessons in it and it's generally much nicer than the average English classroom text (gawd we teach some depressing stuff sometimes). I think it's a bit simplistic in some ways. The poetry is definitely growing on me with the second (may be third?) reading amd teaching it in detail.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the story and how it flowed. I didn’t like re-Reading parts from a different characters point of view I felt like it could have just as easily been one character’s point of view and then continued from the others. Otherwise it was well written and was a great story!
I remember reading this for school and thinking that I wasn't going to like it because the teachers were going to "over analyse" it and all that jazz but... Despite all of that, I still really enjoyed reading this book. So yeah, it's a thumbs up!
Heather Barrett
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ending was extremely anti-climactic - seemed like it could've done with an extra chapter or two. Otherwise, I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would, especially with the interesting use of free verse.
Melissa (Jen & Mel's Book Nook)
I need to find more free form poetry like this!
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
dreamy af
Ryan Patrick
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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