The Good Thief

The Good Thief
by: Hannah Tinti

Published: 2008

# of pages: 327

Quote: "'I think we should all say a prayer for William,' he said.
'He doesn't need one,' said Ichy.
'We all need prayers,' said Brother Joseph. 'Especially when something good happens to us.' He sighed. 'Bad luck follows anything that's good. And bad things always happen in threes.'
The boys contemplated this as they continued with their work. And more than a few were secretly glad." -pg. 12

The Good Thief reminded me of a tall tale. Like Big Fish by Daniel Wallace. The story is full of adventure. Thieves, orphans, traveling, a little dwarf with a big attitude, a gentle giant (well, I'm not so sure how gentle he was to people other than the main character), an evil factory owner, a dashing thief and con artist who tells magnificent tales, men "rising from the dead," and lots of graveyards.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was well written and once I started I couldn't put it down. I read it in about 24 hours because instead of helping my husband in the yard I spent the day inside (wrapped in blankets laying on the couch) reading this book.

It's about a 12 year old boy named Ren who has spent his entire life in an orphanage. One day he is picked for adoption out of all the boys by a man who claims to be his brother. It isn't long before Ren discovers that Benjamin Nab isn't his brother although the two are similar in many ways. How can you not love Ren? He's a great kid and everyone he meets likes him, which makes him valuable to Benjamin and his friend Tom, who are thieves. Ren gives them some credibility, people trust him and therefore begin to trust his caretakers...who are robbing them.

The trio meets many interesting people on their journey to making money by stealing, conning, and robbing graves. All of these people are fascinating and it was interesting that they all had something "wrong" with them. But they all fit right in with Ren, who is missing his hand. I loved all of the characters and how they struggle through life.

Benjamin, Tom, and Ren fight evil in a town ruled by a tyrant factory owner. Mysteries are solved and everything turns out (almost) okay. The story is somewhat dark with all of the descriptions of grave robbing, amputations, suicides, orphans, and people being mistreated by those with more power. If you read this book you have to understand that it does have that tall tale feeling. Don't expect it to be really realistic.

I am giving this 4 stars here, but I really give it 4 and a half. It doesn't get a 5 because it didn't really draw me into the story. Stories that center around young children usually don't (it's missing the romance). This almost seems like a book that would be good for children, but it is a little too graphic with the dark descriptions and the minor sexual subjects. I do recommend it to young adults and adults, especially if you enjoy historical fiction and tales that are similar to Daniel Wallace's novel and Charles Dickens' novels (the orphans, thieves, factory girls, urban environment, etc reminded me of him as well).

I would love to hear what you thought of this book!

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