From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up—A methodical start takes readers into the world of young thieves Demi and Baz. When Demi steals a precious ring from Senora Dolucca, the police captain's wife, the corrupt politics of the barrio and indeed the social structure of this nameless, timeless city begin to shift, resulting in complete upheaval. The teens are caught in the whirlwind. Baz has always trusted their den mother, Fay, but she feels betrayed when the woman sends Raoul to "the Mountain." Baz begins to question the foundation of her life. Her awareness grows—not only of the corruption at all levels of society, but also of the psychological landscape, how she and the other children are caught in the web by their need for affection, approval, and the idea of family. Demi appears to be unaware of what's going on, so it's up to Baz to find a way to get Raoul off the mountain and leave the barrio with as much of her family intact as she can manage. While not a fast read, the cover and the content will appeal to urban teens, particularly those reading on grade level or above. Fans of Brian James's Thief
(Scholastic, 2008) and readers looking for a more in-depth story will find it here.—Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Oakland, CA
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Two young thieves in a contemporary, unnamed Latin American city are caught up in a barrio-wide power struggle in this edge-of-the-seat escapade. For as long as she can remember, Baz has stood lookout for her boastful, light-fingered friend Demi; they’re both members of a ring of child pickpockets run by the mercurial fagin Fay. It’s a good life—until Demi’s theft of a valuable ring sets off a massive hue and cry, and Fay sends the pair on a house robbery where Demi is betrayed, wounded, and captured. It’s plain that her partner was set up by a challenger to the barrio’s crime lord, Señor Moro, and Baz screws up her courage to plunge into a desperate, elaborate rescue scheme. Casting his dialogue in pidginlike cadences (“That boy a thief—nobody thief from Fay. He move on”) and creating a vivid setting in which massive wealth and grinding poverty coexist amid constant danger, Finn gives his shy protagonist just enough wit, guile, and speed to stay a hairbreadth ahead of brutal police and murderous mobsters. Readers will race along breathlessly beside her. Grades 6-9. --John Peters