The Good Thief Hannah Tinti
Published: August 28, 2008
Genre: Young Adult / Historical Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Recommended for younger Historical Fiction fans
Twelve year-old Ren is missing his left hand. How it was lost is a mystery that Ren has been trying to solve for his entire life, as well as who his parents are, and why he was abandoned as an infant at Saint Anthony’s Orphanage for boys. He longs for a family to call his own and is terrified of the day he will be sent alone into the world.
But then a young man named Benjamin Nab appears, claiming to be Ren’s long-lost brother, and his convincing tale of how Ren lost his hand and his parents persuades the monks at the orphanage to release the boy and to give Ren some hope. But is Benjamin really who he says he is? Journeying through a New England of whaling towns and meadowed farmlands, Ren is introduced to a vibrant world of hardscrabble adventure filled with outrageous scam artists, grave robbers, and petty thieves. If he stays, Ren becomes one of them. If he goes, he’s lost once again. As Ren begins to find clues to his hidden parentage he comes to suspect that Benjamin not only holds the key to his future, but to his past as well.
Thoughts on Content (4.0 / 5.0 ):
A word that I had heard to describe this story before reading it was “Dickensian,” which I found to be very accurate. Ren’s journey through this book, with all sorts of shady type-characters, is very much a coming of age book. The plot was very tightly written, which I appreciate, and there didn’t seem to be any gaps in the plot. The story did keep my attention throughout the book.
Thoughts on Style (3.5 / 5.0):
Tinti is a very entertaining writer and, for a young adult book, I didn’t feel that she “wrote down” to her audience. As for her characters, they were interesting, but not very original. This was a selection for my book club and, discussing it with my friends, we all felt that certain characters reminded us of the same things. I did find her descriptions of 19th century New England to be compelling and believable.
My Thoughts (3.5 / 5.0):
I am torn on this book. There are things I liked about it, but in the end it just felt a bit “stock” to me. I figured out how the book would end when I was about a third of the way through it, but the story was still written well enough that I wanted to continue reading it. It seemed like many of the characters and situations were “inspired” by other things in popular culture—things that, perhaps, a young adult reader might not pick up on, but an adult reader would.
When it comes down to it, I would recommend this book—but I would recommend it to younger readers more than adult readers.
I was not solicited for this review and received no compensation. All opinions are mine, and mine alone.
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