The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti is a contemporary novel that has the feel of a classic. Set in 19th century New England, it is reminiscent of Mark Twain and Dickens. It is the story of an orphan boy, the very likeable 12 year old Ren, who is missing a hand but doesn’t know why. Left at St. Anthony’s Orphanage for Boys as a baby, he longs for a family but knows nothing of his past.
Told by the monks that he is unadoptable due to his disability, it comes as quite a shock to Ren when Benjamin Nab appears claiming to be his brother. The orphanage is quick to release Ren after hearing Benjamin’s convincing tale, and the two hit the road on an adventure filled with scams, hustlers, and grave robbers.
Ren, having never been outside the walls of the orphanage, is both fascinated and leery of Benjamin and his partner in crime, the heavy drinking Tom. Benjamin is full of fantastical stories that become less and less believable and soon Ren fears he is not who he claims to be, but by this time he has already been sucked in. Benjamin’s past eventually catches up with him and by the end Ren must decide who he can trust.
Full of wit, humor, and memorable characters, this is a great book with an authentic feel and a fast moving plot. The subject matter sounds dark, but it doesn’t feel that way at all. In fact, it is surprisingly lighthearted. I was fully engrossed in this world of outcasts populated with a dwarf living on the roof, a doctor who buys recently deceased bodies, Ren-the religious crippled orphan boy with a good heart, the cruel owner of a mousetrap factory, a violent giant with a soft spot for Ren, a hard of hearing widowed landlady, and Benjamin, the tall-tale spinning con man.
This book is really different from anything else I’ve read this year and was a welcome change of pace. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it to anyone 14 years and up.
The Good Thief will release in stores at the end of August and is published by The Dial Press an imprint of Random House. Discussion questions for book clubs can be found HERE at ReadingGroupGuides.com. I received this ARC from the publisher. Hannah Tinti has a great website with some questions and answers and an excerpt. I was amazed to learn that this is her first novel. See what you think!
For another review, check out this one at The Friendly Book Nook.