Friday, January 6, 2012

Review: Grape Thief - Kristine L. Franklin

Grape Thief by Kristine L. Franklin
Genre: Middle Grade, historical fiction
Published on April 1, 2003
Published by Candlewick Press
Pages: 304
Read From: 12.13.11 - 12.14.11

Most of the men in Roslyn, Washington have come from Europe to work in the coal mines. Twelve-year-old Slava Petrovich - called Cuss because he can swear in fourteen languages - is destined, like his older brothers, to become a miner, too. Until that dark day, he intends to hang out with his best friends, Perks and Skinny, plot a daring grape heist, and beat the odds y staying in school. . . .at least until the end of seventh grade. But when trouble comes to town and his brothers are involved, getting an education becomes the least of Cuss's worries. 


Yet another "life-time" story which was actually quite good and not terribly boring. Perhaps part of why I found it so entertaining is because it takes place in my home state (Washington) and though it is a little disconcerting to read familiar landmarks and towns in a book, discovering the rarely-mentioned Washington State in a story always makes me feel a little smug. Who doesn't like to read about their home state? Especially in such a fascinating era.

The storyline could have been far more interesting. I was, in fact, hoping that the trouble Cuss's brothers get caught up in would become the prominent event - it involved Mobsters, after all, and Mobsters always promise a good story. Sadly, though, this event is given a pretty cursory glance and things return to the daily antics and struggles of Cuss and his relatives. Too bad; I really started to like the book when it promised Mob involvement. Still, even with this basic "poor-immigrant-family-struggling-to-make-ends-meet" storyline, Grape Thief was a book which I would recommend to those who are looking for a leisurely time-period story, and which doesn't have any annoying female characters. Given the sort of books I have been slogging my way through of late, it was unbelievably relaxing to find a book which mainly had young boy characters. Cuss is actually pretty likable, too, as are his friends, though Skinny was, at times, a tiny bit aggravating, but I still liked him for the majority of the book.

No complaints - a good "life-time" story that, had it pursued the storyline with the Mob, would have made it onto my favorites list, but even so, I intend to buy it.


  1. Well, I thought it was a fantastic book. It was a story that displayed the bliss of life in even in its darkest moments. So, even when life seems gloomy and hard, it is never without laughter and hope. One profound theme in this book is family, and I love the way this story brings it out. With little things like Cuss' mother giving a good laugh when all seems lost. It's a great book, a fantastic read, but only when you feel the story and open your eyes to what's between the lines. Don't over expect from the book, or hold your expectations high, or else you will miss the true greatness of this book.

    1. I liked it, too, Kurtis, as is evident by my rating and review. I think that the intended age group will generally find it boring, but for older people they - like you - will appreciate the deeper message of GRAPE THIEF. Though I do think the Author could have had more happen with the Mob and still had those themes.


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