Friday, April 27, 2012

Review: A Pickpocket's Tale - Karen Schwabach

A Pickpocket's Tale
by Karen Schwabach
Middle Grade
Read From: Apr. 5, 2012 - Apr. 7, 2012

This is a book that at first I was a little dubious about, but ended up really enjoying in the end. While Molly, the heroine, takes forever to trust people, it is a realistic attitude for a character with a background like hers, so her lack of trust was less annoying than it usually would be in most. She does get into a lot of situations that are her own fault because of it, of course, and I wanted to smack her upside the head, but poor Molly doesn't know any better, and she is a naturally-honest person, so it's hard to dislike her for these errors. It's easier to get angry with her new employers, who don't seem to take into considering that she's come from a rough life and may be easily alarmed at things. Mrs. Bell is always upset with things that Molly does, not once wondering if maybe on the streets of London, Molly was taught no differently.

Still, despite a somewhat constant feeling of frustration with a lot of the characters, it is an enjoyable story. Molly may cause a lot of her own problems, but it's through ignorance, and then there are lots of other situations that just happen. And there is no denying that she tries her best to do what's right, she knows how to take care of herself, she's smart, and when she does finally come to trust people, she trusts the right ones.

The Author's writing style is excellent with an authentic flair. I at first thought that I would constantly be looking up the meaning of Flash-cant words - London-street talk - in the index, and that definitely made me pause before starting the story and wonder if this book would be worth it. But the Author does a superb job in giving in-text explanations of certain Flash-cant words, or she uses them in such a context that the Reader can easily guess at their meaning. And all of this is done without breaking the flow of the paragraphs. I only had to refer to the index once or twice, and after that it was easy enough to follow. I actually find myself really glad that the Author chose to use Flash-cant; it leant a great deal to believability and immersing myself into Molly's world.

My main complaint lies with the story's finis, its end. Throughout most of the book, there is a build-up to a break-in at the synagogue, and then the book ends shortly afterward with a great deal of suddenness. It felt extremely incomplete and left a couple of very important questions unanswered. The Author could have written just one more chapter to answer these questions, and the story's ending would not have felt so abrupt. And as far as I know, there is no sequel.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the majority of A Pickpocket's Tale, and it is an ideal pick for those Readers who enjoy authentic-feeling dialogue, smart characters, and rich descriptions of a time period long past.

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