The Good Thief
By Hannah Tinti
The Good Thief is a good story, although, it took me a little while to find it. I wasn’t sure of this book for the first few chapters but decided to keep reading and found an interesting tale of family and survival.
Ren is 12 years old. He’s an orphan who is missing one hand, and without that hand, he has no hope of being adopted. He knows nothing of his family, he has no idea how he lost his hand, and only knows that his future is bleak. When a man shows up claiming to be his sibling, the brothers at St. Anthony’s Orphanage for Boys send him on his way with Benjamin Nab without asking too many questions as if they know this is Ren’s only chance to escape his sad future. Benjamin is a conman with plans for Ren and his missing hand. With nothing to his name, no family, and nowhere to go, Ren finds himself in an uncomfortable position. A good little thief himself, Ren throws his lot in with Benjamin and finds a home, a family of sorts, and friends.
This book is sort of gothic, some of it is dark, and some of it is morbid. I liked Ren though and I think that kept me in the story. Honestly, I found some of it unsavory, and while I truly didn’t dislike any of the other characters, I found their actions unlikeable. This unfortunately made my attention flag a bit. Short aside here — I can’t really tell you what I found so unlikable since I’ve read and liked books with much worse in them. There was just something here that made me flinch a bit and I honestly don’t know what that was. So there you have it, a completely unsatisfactory explanation. Sometimes like and dislike can’t be explained fully, it’s just is.
This book has been on my list for a few months, and though I think I can say that I enjoyed this book in the end, I didn’t love this book like I anticipated. At one point my husband asked me what I was reading and what it was about. After a brief description, he promptly asked why I was still reading it. Maybe my short redux was showing my dislike early on I can’t say. I will admit that my description was rather on the morbid side though. I don’t know if I became strangely fascinated by but what I was reading or what but I did finish and in the end was rewarded with a good little tale about New England scam artists, grave robbers, murderers, thieves, and a bit of adventure.
Ren does get answers to many of his questions about his life, finds out what loyalty means, and ends up with a family. It does come down to a satisfying conclusion, and I don’t always need a happy ending, but sometimes I think it helps. This was one of those times. Ren’s a pathetic, one-handed orphan who steals, but I felt some sympathy for him and had to follow him to the end, if only to make sure he got there all right.
5 thoughts on “The Good Thief”
I enjoyed The Good Thief because of Tinti’s way with a plot that comes from writing short stories, but it was a bit thin. Maybe your problem might be secondhand embarrassment, because Ren is in over his head.
I think it was more disappointment than anything. I really wanted to love this one and it didn’t happen.
I think I felt much the same as you. The basics of this story, with the Catholic school orphan protagonist falling in amongst con men, really appealed to me, and the book was just very different to what I was expecting. I was bothered by some of the grave-robbing stuff, and the con men weren’t–you know, they weren’t fun con men. :p
The grave robbing stuff didn’t sit all that well with me either which made me like it less and less the more it went on. And you’re right, they weren’t fun con men.
While the idea of this book sounds marvelous, I’ve read enough reviews to know that I probably wouldn’t enjoy it very much. Which is so frustrating! I get mad at authors when they have brilliant ideas and then can’t carry it off. lol