The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti
Posted by Caitie F on December 5, 2010
Summary (from goodreads):
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. When a young man named Benjamin Nab appears, claiming to be Ren’s long-lost brother, his convincing tale of how Ren lost his hand 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? As Ren is introduced to a life of hardscrabble adventure filled with outrageous scam artists, grave robbers, and petty thieves, he begins to suspect that Benjamin not only holds the key to his future, but to his past as well….
I am a sucker for a good orphan story. I think it is automatically more fascinating because there is a whole dimension that is added. Add that to a great setting, mood, and some of the best writing I have seen all year, and you get what i found to be an excellent, excited, and well-crafted book.
The characters felt so real to me as I was reading, Tinti did an excellent job of developing Ren. I understood where he was torn between his religious upbringing and his new way of life of lying and stealing (not that he didn’t have some of that before). I could see every character in my mind, but she did not describe them too much, you may have had a different look in mind when you read it. I thought it might have been hard to read since the main characters were not good guys, they were grave robbers, drunks, and there was even a hired killer. Yet, I still managed to like them and care about them since I saw them from Ren’s eyes. He saw the bad, but he managed to see the good also. I can completely see how people would be turned off by the characters though, since they are NOT good people.
I can’t discuss this book without talking about the writing. Tinti is a fantastic writer. Everything is just written so well. There are some very action-packed scenes, but they were easy to follow and did not drag on. Development of character, setting, and story are intertwined incredibly well. It never felt like any elements were being pushed to the side.
When I list the best books I read this year, I am sure this will be on it.
Have you read The Good Thief? If so, let me know what you thought in the comments. If not, what are your favorite stories with orphans?