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2 Beaverton Children's Young Adult- General

The Good Thief

by

The Good Thief Cover

ISBN13: 9780385337465
ISBN10: 0385337469
Condition: Standard
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Excerpt

Chapter One

The man arrived after morning prayers. Word spread quickly that someone had come, and the boys of Saint Anthonys elbowed each other and strained to catch a glimpse as he unhitched his horse and led it to the trough for drinking. The mans face was hard to make out, his hat pulled so far down that the brim nearly touched his nose. He tied the reins to a post and then stood there, patting the horses neck as it drank. The man waited, and the boys watched, and when the mare finally lifted its head, they saw the man lean forward, stroke the animals nose, and kiss it. Then he wiped his lips with the back of his hand, removed his hat, and made his way across the yard to the monastery.

Men often came for children. Sometimes it was for cheap labor, sometimes for a sense of doing good. The brothers of Saint Anthonys would stand the orphans in a line, and the men would walk back and forth, inspecting. It was easy to tell what they were looking for by where their eyes went. Usually it was to boys almost fourteen, the taller ones, the loudest, the strongest. Then their eyes went down to the barely crawling, the stumbling two-year-olds—still untainted and fresh. This left the in-betweens— those who had lost their baby fat and curls but were not yet old enough to be helpful. These children were usually ill-tempered and had little to offer but lice and a bad case of the measles. Ren was one of them.

He had no memory of a beginning—of a mother or father, sister or brother. His life was simply there, at Saint Anthonys, and what he remembered began in the middle of things—the smell of boiled sheets and lye; the taste of watery oatmeal; the feel of dropping a brick onto a piece of stone, watching the red pieces split off, then using those broken shards to write on the wall of the monastery, and being slapped for this, and being forced to wash the dust away with a cold, wet rag.

Rens name had been sewn into the collar of his nightshirt: three letters embroidered in dark blue thread. The cloth was made of good linen, and he had worn it until he was nearly two. After that it was taken away and given to a smaller child to wear. Ren learned to keep an eye on Edward, then James, then Nicholas—and corner them in the yard. He would pin the squirming child to the ground and examine the fading letters closely, wondering what kind of hand had worked them. The R and E were sewn boldly in a cross-stitch, but the N was thinner, slanting to the right, as if the person working the thread had rushed to complete the job. When the shirt wore thin, it was cut into bandages. Brother Joseph gave Ren the piece of collar with the letters, and the boy kept it underneath his pillow at night.

Ren watched now as the visitor waited on the steps of the priory. The man passed his hat back and forth in his hands, leaving damp marks along the felt. The door opened and he stepped inside. A few minutes later Brother Joseph came to gather the children, and said, “Get to the statue.”

The statue of Saint Anthony sat in the center of the yard. It was carved from marble, dressed in the robes of the Franciscan friars. The dome of Saint Anthonys head was bald, with a halo circling his brow. In one hand he held a lily and in the other a small child wearing a crown. The child was holding out one palm in supplication and using the other to touch the saints cheek. There were times, when the sun receded in the afternoon and shadows played across the stone, that the touch looked more like a slap. This child was Jesus Christ, and the pairing was proof of Saint Anthonys ability to carry messages to God. When a loaf of bread went missing from the kitchen, or Father John couldnt find the keys to the chapel, the children were sent to the statue. Saint Anthony, Saint Anthony, come bring what Ive lost back to me.

Catholics were rare in this part of New England. A local Irishman whod made a fortune pressing cheap grapes into strong port had left his vineyard to the church in a desperate bid for heaven before he died. The brothers of Saint Anthony were sent to claim the land and build the monastery. They found themselves surrounded by Protestants, who, in the first month of their arrival, burned down the barn, fouled the well, and caught two brothers after dark on the road and sent them home tarred and feathered.

After praying for guidance, the brothers turned to the Irishmans winepress, which was still intact and on the grounds. Plants were sent from Italy, and after some trial and error the brothers matched the right vine with their stony New England soil. Before long Saint Anthonys became well-known for their particular vintage, which they aged in old wooden casks and used for their morning and evening masses. The unconsecrated wine was sold to the local taverns and also to individual landowners, who sent their servants to collect the bottles in the night so that their neighbors would not see them doing business with Catholics.

Soon after this the first child was left. Brother Joseph heard cries one morning before sunrise and opened the door to find a baby wrapped in a soiled dress. The second child was left in a bucket near the well. The third in a basket by the outhouse. Girls were collected every few months by the Sisters of Charity, who worked in a hospital some distance away. What happened to them, no one knew, but the boys were left at Saint Anthonys, and before long the monastery had turned into a de facto orphanage for the bastard children of the local townspeople, who still occasionally tried to burn the place to the ground.

To control these attempts at arson, the brothers built a high brick wall around the property, which sloped and towered like a fortress along the road. At the bottom of the wooden gate that served as the entrance they cut a small swinging door, and it was through this tiny opening that the babies were pushed. Ren was told that he, too, had been pushed through this gate and found the following morning, covered in mud in the priors garden. It had rained the night before, and although Ren had no memory of the storm, he often wondered why he had been left in bad weather. It always led to the same conclusion: that whoever had dropped him off could not wait to be rid of him.

The gate was hinged to open one way—in. When Ren pushed at the tiny door with his finger, he could feel the strength of the wooden frame behind it. There was no handle on the childrens side, no groove to lift from underneath. The wood was heavy, thick, and old—a fine piece of oak planed years before from the woods beyond the orphanage. Ren liked to imagine he felt a pressure in return, a mother reaching back through, changing her mind, groping wildly, a thin white arm.

•••

Underneath Saint Anthonys statue the younger boys fidgeted and pushed, the older ones cleared their throats nervously. Brother Joseph walked down the line and straightened their clothes, or spit on his hand and scrubbed their faces, bumping his large stomach into the children who had fallen out of place. He pushed it now toward a six-year-old who had suddenly sprung a bloody nose from the excitement.

“Hide it quick,” he said, shielding the boy with his body. Across the yard Father John was solemnly approaching, and behind him was the man who had kissed the horse.

He was a farmer. Perhaps forty years old. His shoulders were strong, his fingers thick with calluses, his skin the color of rawhide from the sun. There was a rash of brown spots across his forehead and the backs of his hands. His face was not unkind, and his coat was clean, his shirt pressed white, his collar tight against his neck. A woman had dressed him. So there would be a wife. A mother.

The man began to make his way down the line. He paused before two blond boys, Brom and Ichy. They were also in- betweens, twins left three winters after Ren. Broms neck was thicker, by about two inches, and Ichys feet were longer, by about two inches, but beyond those distinguishing characteristics it was hard to tell the boys apart when they were standing still. It was only when they were out in the fields working, or throwing stones at a pine tree, or washing their faces in the morning that the differences became clear. Brom would splash a handful of water over his head and be done with it. Ichy would fold a handkerchief into fourths, dab it into the basin, then set to work carefully and slowly behind his ears.

It was said that no one would adopt Brom and Ichy because they were twins. One was sure to be unlucky. Second-borns were usually considered changelings and drowned right after birth. But no one knew who came first, Brom or Ichy, so there was no way to tell where the bad luck was coming from. What the brothers needed to do was separate, make themselves look as different as possible. Ren kept this information to himself. They were his only friends, and he did not want to lose them.

Standing together now the twins grinned at the farmer, and then, suddenly, Brom threw his arms around his brother and attempted to lift him off the ground. He had done this once before, as a show of strength in front of two elderly gentlemen, and it had ended badly. Ren watched from the other end of the line as Ichy, taken by surprise, began to recite his multiplication tables, all the while struggling violently against his brother, to the point that one of his boots flew into the air and sailed past the farmers ear.

Father John kept a small switch up the sleeve of his robe, and he put it to work now on the twins, while Brother Joseph fetched Ichys boot and the farmer continued down the line. Ren put his arms behind his back and stood at attention. He held his breath as the man stopped in front of him.

“How old are you?”

Ren opened his mouth to answer, but the man spoke for him.

“You look about twelve.”

Ren wanted to say that he could be any age, that he could make himself into anything the man wanted, but instead he followed what he had been taught by the brothers, and said nothing.

“I want a boy,” said the farmer. “Old enough to help me work and young enough for my wife to feel she has a child. Someone whos honest and willing to learn. Someone who can be a son to us.” He leaned forward and lowered his voice so that only Ren could hear him. “Do you think you could do that?”

Father John came up behind them. “You dont want that one.”

From the Hardcover edition.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

hilaryotoole, January 2, 2012 (view all comments by hilaryotoole)
Great read with surprisingly interesting turns. A little gory for my normal liking but it was so believable. I've recommended this book to several friends and all agree, it's a great story about a young boy who you just can't stop reading about and pulling for.
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Wendy Beckman, January 5, 2011 (view all comments by Wendy Beckman)
At first I bought this book thinking that one of my sons might like it. I kept it in my car as my "traffic jam" book -- to be read when caught in traffic jams, when waiting for the car pool, etc. Then I found myself hoping for traffic jams, eagerly eyeing the book at red lights and sitting in the driveway after I had shut the car off catching up on a few pages. I absolutely could not put the book down. I had to bring it inside and make it my #1 reading book. So many loose ends were strewn about the place that I could not imagine their being sewn up -- but I needed to trust in Tinti's sure hand. It is exciting right to the end. There were just two scenes of nudity that I thought didn't add to the story that made me think Tinti had lived in a literary world too long, given her day job as editor of an adult magazine. Otherwise, The Good Thief would be enjoyed by adults as well as children from tweens on up.
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teamsally, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by teamsally)
Think Treasure Island and Great Expectations...great new classic.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780385337465
Author:
Tinti, Hannah
Publisher:
Dial Press
Author:
Scheer, Kodi
Author:
Hodgson, Antonia
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - General
Subject:
General
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
New england
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Literary
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20090831
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
400
Dimensions:
8 x 5.31 in 1 lb

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Related Subjects


Featured Titles » Literature
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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Featured Titles
Young Adult » General

The Good Thief Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$3.50 In Stock
Product details 400 pages Dial Press - English 9780385337465 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Set in New England, presumably in the 19th century, Tinti's Disney-ready first novel (after story collection Animal Crackers) follows one-handed orphan Ren's not quite rags-to-riches tale. Ren, with his love for religion and penchant for thievery, is immediately likable, and when rugged, tall-tale spinning con man Benjamin Nab strolls into Ren's orphanage one day and claims Ren as his brother, it seems too good to be true, and it is. Benjamin, along with boozy partner-in-crime Tom, lead Ren throughout New England, using the endearing, crippled orphan to 'open doors' and make their hustling life easier. When they finally end up in North Umbrage, a town that looms large in Benjamin's past, the trio's luck dries up, and Ren must decide who he can trust and what he is willing to sacrifice in order to have this family. For a novel full of scams, shams and underhanded deals and populated by hustlers, thieves and grave robbers, the sense of menace is muted, but as an adventure yarn with YA crossover appeal, it's tough to beat." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[A] moody, twisty, and assured first novel....Tinti secures her place as one of the sharpest, slyest young American novelists. (Grade: A-)"
"Review" by , "Marvelously satisfying...rich with sensory details, surprising twists and living, breathing characters to root for."
"Review" by , "In her highly original debut novel, [Tinti] renders the horrors and wonders she concocts utterly believable and rich in implication as she creates a darkly comedic and bewitching, sinister yet life-affirming tale about the eternal battle between good and evil."
"Review" by , "Hannah Tinti has written a lightning strike of a novel — beautiful and haunting and ever so bright. She is a 21st century Robert Louis Stevenson, an adventuress who lays bare her characters' hearts with a precision and a fearlessness that will leave you shaken." Junot Diaz, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
"Review" by , "Every once in a while — if you are very lucky — you come upon a novel so marvelous and enchanting and rare that you wish everyone in the world would read it, as well. The Good Thief is just such a book — a beautifully composed work of literary magic."
"Review" by , "[T]he reader can find plain-spoken fiction full of traditional virtues: strong plotting, pure lucidity, visceral momentum and a total absence of writerly mannerisms....Ms. Tinti has a surprising talent of her own. It will interest many."
"Review" by , "The Good Thief's characters are weird and wonderful, its setting and tale every bit as macabre as those in Tinti's short-story collection, Animal Crackers. All of that, along with its humor, ingenuity and fast pace, make The Good Thief compelling."
"Review" by , "The Good Thief instantly transports us into another time and place and creates adventure without romanticism: no mean feat. Tinti's imaginative powers, as manifested through those of her creation, Ren, reacquaint us with our own. And that's a gift to be cherished by readers of any age."
"Review" by , "Tinti is lavish with her story­telling gifts — which are prodigious....You can't push too hard at the logic of some of the novel's events, but you wouldn't want to: they're there for the mystery, for the beauty and terror of the images, and for the way they appeal to desire in their audience."
"Synopsis" by , Richly imagined, gothically spooky, and replete with the ingenious storytelling ability of a born novelist, The Good Thief introduces one of the most appealing young heroes in contemporary fiction and ratifies Tinti as an exciting new talent.
"Synopsis" by , A Dickensian cast of characters in 19th-century New England comes brilliantly to life in this wondrous debut novel about an orphaned boy and the colorful con man who claims to be his brother.
"Synopsis" by , Thrilling new historical fiction starring a scoundrel with a heart of gold and set in the darkest debtors prison in Georgian London, where people fall dead as quickly as they fall in love and no one is as they seem.
"Synopsis" by ,
For fans of Karen Russell or Hannah Tinti, a debut collection of stories inspired by science, medicine, and the power of healing with a magical twist.
"Synopsis" by , Incendiary Girls explores our baser instincts with vivid imagination and dark humor. In these stories, the body becomes strange and unfamiliar terrain, a medium for transfor­mation. In “Fundamental Laws of Nature,” a doctor considers legacy, both good and bad, when she discovers her mother has been reincarnated as a Thoroughbred mare. The infer­tile couple of “Primal Son” desperately wants a child, but when their wish is granted, the baby isnt recognizably human. In “When a Camel Breaks Your Heart,” a figure artist struggles to understand her lovers culture as he morphs, quite literally, into an exotic ani­mal. And the title story, narrated by an unorthodox angel, chronicles the remarkable life of a girl just beyond deaths reach.

 

In Kodi Scheers hands, empathy and attachment are illuminated by the absurdity of life. When our bodies betray us, when we begin to feel our minds slip, how much can we embrace without going insane? How much can we detach ourselves before losing our humanity? Scheers stories grapple with these questions in each throbbing, choking, heartbreaking moment.

"Synopsis" by ,
"Antonia Hodgson’s London of 1727 offers that rare achievement in historical fiction: a time and place suspensefully different from our own, yet real . . . A damn’d good read." —Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Historian

London, 1727. Tom Hawkins refuses to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a country parson. His preference is for wine, women, and cards. But there’s honor there too, and Tom won’t pull family strings to get himself out of debt—not even when faced with London’s notorious debtors’ prison.

The Marshalsea Gaol is a world of its own, with simple rules: Those with family or friends who can lend them a little money may survive in relative comfort. Those with none will starve in squalor and disease. And those who try to escape will suffer a gruesome fate at the hands of its ruthless governor and his cronies. The trouble is, Tom has never been good at following rules, even simple ones. And the recent grisly murder of a debtor, Captain Roberts, has brought further terror to the gaol. While the captain's beautiful widow cries for justice, the finger of suspicion points only one way: do the sly, enigmatic figure of Samuel Fleet.

Some call Fleet a devil, a man to avoid at all costs. But Tom Hawkins is sharing his cell. Soon Tom’s choice is clear: get to the truth of the murder—or be the next to die.

A dazzling evocation of a startlingly modern era, The Devil in the Marshalsea is a thrilling debut novel full of intrigue and suspense.

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