Grape Thief by Kristine L. Franklin
Genre: Middle Grade, historical fiction
Published on April 1, 2003
Published by Candlewick Press
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.