Title: The Good Thief
Author: Hannah Tinti
Synopsis: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.(goodreads.com)
I became interested in reading The Good Thief by Hannah Tanti because I love the publication she is the founder of onestory. I received a postcard about her first book of fiction (she has a short story collection entitled Animal Crackers), but didn’t immediately seek it out.
I am sorry to have waited so long.
This book is riveting. It is set during what feels like the late 1800’s. Ren, our protagonist, is an orphan. Abandoned at a young age, Ren is raised by Catholic monks at Saint Anthony’s Orphanage for boys. Ren is nearing the age when he will be sold into the military and so whenever a potential parent comes to look at the boys, he makes himself more presentable.
On one fate-filled day, a man comes to the orphanage looking for his brother. His brother and Ren share a common characteristic: they are missing a part of their left arm. Benjamin breaks down in tears when he sees Ren and takes him home to live with him. It is only when they are well on their way down the road that Ren realizes Benjamin may not be who he says he is and may have questionable motives for taking Ren as his family.
Benjamin and Ren travel to a town called North Umbrage where Benjamin is living in a ramshackled house. Upon arrival, Ren is introduced to Tom, a retired teacher, who is apparently in cahoots with Benjamin. The two men are con artists and have taken Ren under their wings.
Ren is a likable and worthy protagonist and his journey is one that readers of all types will enjoy. This story manages to appeal to both young adult readers and adults. It is one of those books that are you read it, you just want to keep turning the pages because the story is so compelling and engaging. Tinti utilizes setting to create unforgettable images and moves the reader into the minds of these characters.