Sunday, April 19, 2009

Trying to catch up with The Good Thief

Well, I'm easily the blogger who blogs the least. Sort of an anti-blogger. I don't mean to be. I am backed up on book posts like I've been eating matzah all week. (I haven't been eating matzah all week though I should have been eating matzah all week. Another story entirely.) But it's got me on this rant about not getting the things done I really want to because I have all this other crap that needs my attention, as well.

For example, I really needed to get started on the yard yesterday as it appears that a herd of meerkats (a flock? a pride?) must have moved into my backyard over the winter and I never noticed somehow. The yard behind the garage is lousy with tunnels, mounds and bald patches. As I mowed, I was cutting the tops of these mounds off and releasing a geyser of dirt and dust into the air--charming. What I'm saying is the time I spent decapitating giant anthills could've been spent blogging about Tinti's The Good Thief, which I promised to post about months ago but haven't. So I will. Long story short:
I loved this book.

The story opens in an orphanage where we meet 12-year Ren, a one-handed orphan with a head full of lice and the tiniest hope of being adopted in his heart. Con artist Benjamin Nab, who is up to no good though is as charming and resourceful as the day is long, adopts Ren and finds him a quick study. Thus begins a tale that is a throwback to the likes of Dickens workhouse thieves or the stories of Robert Louis Stevenson. Narrow escapes, evil factory owners, kindly landladies, mousetrap girls, murderers, poverty, sickness and a sense of family--it's a rollicking tale and beautifully written. Tinti has a wonderful way with words and imbues the many characters with great humanity despite their many, many flaws. She can also be damned funny. Too, there is a cinematic quality to this story. You can just picture it all unfolding in front of you on a big screen.

With all the swashbuckling exploits and wonderful characters, The Good Thief offers a reassuring payoff: it finds family where there wasn't before. The author Richard Bach has a quote I've always loved that I think captures what Hannah Tinti does so well with this book:

"The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.

Enjoy The Good Thief.

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