BookBrowse Reviews The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Good Thief

A Novel

by Hannah Tinti

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti X
The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2008, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2009, 352 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Lucia Silva

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


An adventure tale with a good dose of Gothic finery

Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, calls The Good Thief "a lightning strike of a novel," and Hannah Tinti "a twenty-first-century Robert Louis Stevenson, an adventuress who lays bare her characters' hearts with a precision and a fearlessness that will leave you shaken." Elizabeth Gilbert, best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love, calls it a masterpiece and "a beautifully composed work of literary magic," the kind of book "you wish everyone in the world would read". You could hardly cast a wider net – unless you tossed Danielle Steel and Thomas Pynchon into the mix. So I must admit, I was intrigued before I even cracked the cover. Scarcely thirty pages in, I realized what I suspected was true: this is the book that everyone will love this summer. Not just you, but your teenage daughter, your 12-year-old grandson, your mother or grandmother... it's hard to think of someone that won't be taken with this lovely little book. An adventure tale with a good dose of Gothic finery, The Good Thief is refreshingly old-fashioned, wonderfully strange, and darkly funny. It's suspenseful and grim, but you can still read it before bed, and its charm is quirky enough to keep it from ever becoming twee.

Hannah Tinti embellishes her story with delicious detail, dropping the reader into each scene with a quick, sure-footed flourish of evocative nouns and metaphors. Boatyards, graveyards, a mouse-trap factory, and a cast of unforgettable characters; each come alive instantly, as if sprung from the pages of an Edward Gorey pop-up book. While most of the characters are drawn in varying degrees of richly imagined broad strokes, our orphan protagonist Ren is deeply developed and complex, allowing Tinti to fashion a fairy-tale style around an emotionally resonant center. Ren is instantly lovable, and Tinti absolutely nails his young character with surprising and moving details. Early in the novel, Ren struggles to find a way to say goodbye to the orphanage he grew up in and dreamed of leaving for so long, and Tinti offers up a ceremony most fitting of a 12-year-old boy:

"All he'd ever wanted was to leave, but now as was about to, he felt uneasy. He walked over to the high brick wall surrounding the buildings and pressed his wet palm against it. The masonry felt as thick and substantial as ever. "Good-bye," he said. But it didn't seem like enough. So he kicked the wall, as hard as he could. The impact made the bones in his leg shake. He stood there panting for a moment, then limped away, his toe throbbing inside his boot."

Unfortunately, the second half of The Good Thief doesn't quite measure up to the great promise of the first. As the plot progresses it wavers dangerously between delightful quirkiness and hokum, resting mostly with the latter by the novel's end. As Tinti pushes forward she loses some of the reader's prized emotional connection with Ren, and the novel ultimately ends up feeling a little ridiculous. Still, the thread of suspense holds up, and Tinti's prose and observations remain beautiful throughout, which makes it easy to forgive any missteps in the plot. All in all, The Good Thief probably won't change your life, but it will remind you of the up-all-night-with-a-flashlight novels of your childhood that, in some way, did.

First Impressions
Eighteen BookBrowse members reviewed this book for First Impressions, rating it an average of 4.5 out of 5.  You can read their comments here.

Reviewed by Lucia Silva

This review was originally published in September 2008, and has been updated for the August 2009 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: To Siri with Love
    To Siri with Love
    by Judith Newman
    It is likely that you know someone who is impacted by autism: In 2017, the U.S. Centers for Disease ...
  • Book Jacket: The Story of Arthur Truluv
    The Story of Arthur Truluv
    by Elizabeth Berg
    Elizabeth Berg's heartwarming novel scored an an impressive 4.4 average rating from the 48 members ...
  • Book Jacket: The Last Ballad
    The Last Ballad
    by Wiley Cash
    Ella May WigginsA hundred years ago or so, farming land west of Charlotte, North Carolina was given over to giant ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

At once a love story, a history lesson and a beautifully written tale of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Strangers in Budapest
    by Jessica Keener

    Strong characters and a riveting plot combine in this psychological thriller set in Budapest.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E Dog H I D

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.