Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Book Review: She Thief by Daniel Finn


The girl, Baz, and the boy, Demi, are master pickpockets. They weave through rich neighborhoods to slip bags off shoulders and wallets out of pockets before disappearing into the crowd. Their loot goes to Fay, who runs a gang of child thieves from her den in the Barrio. This sweltering slum—in a city that is imagined, but all too real—is what passes for home to the kids, and Fay is what passes for family. That all changes the day Demi steals a magnificent blue ring.

Soon, the police chief and the Barrio’s crime boss close in on Fay, and she begins to break under their pressure. Baz has never doubted Fay before. She’s never been apart from Demi, either. But soon, Baz is left alone to find her way through a world more corrupt than she’s ever realized. Here, the lives of children are thrown away without a moment’s hesitation. Here, the rich and powerful are just thieves on a larger scale. And somewhere in this wreck of a city, Baz must find the scraps of hope, the small acts of kindness, and the steely strength that will take her back to Demi and wash them both out of the Barrio for good.


This book is unlike anything I have read before, from the very realistic portrayal of unwanted kids and teens forced to work the streets to survive to the uneducated dialect used to the setting created. Though it took me a little while to get into, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Baz and Demi's story- and watching how Baz developed and grew as the events happening around her started to amp up. Twists and turns and wrenching portrayals of harsh realities that do exist even now, Finn has done a superb job pitching this subject in a YA manner.

Baz is a very stunning character, harboring a certain intelligence despite her situation that grows and plays a large role in the events of this book. She has a certain inborn fearlessness, made stronger by the life she leads after being abandoned on the street and found by Demi. The only girl apart from Fay- the thirtysomething woman who runs their hovel- Baz finds ways to hold her own and assert her dominance amongst the boys. She has a close relationship with Demi, one clearly bred from the life they have led together but Finn hints at something more, indicating these two could be this close in another less dire situation. She is a very strong character for the story to focus on and helped build the overall effect.

Demi is arrogant and cocky but not in an irritating way and he is a nice counterpart to Baz. Though he makes some shocking decisions, the private times when he and Demi are alone really let his true self show up when some of his walls and facades fall. Notably, though it is Demi who lifts the ring that sparks much of the events in this book- a cascade effect with shocking results- he doesn't back out and ignore what he has done. He continues to play his role, doing what he can to protect Baz in the process.

The plot moves at a variable pace, sometimes flowing swiftly and other times stalling out though after the initial slowness, the book keeps the reader engaged and curious about not only what will happen with Baz and Demi but overall with the other events happening. The very realistic setting and events certainly shine an interesting light despite this being a work of fiction and Baz and Demi's story is one that will stay in a reader's mind even after the final page is finished.

With a wide cast of characters, spanning a broad spectrum, Finn has created a beautiful work with She Thief. Strong writing in a very realistic, uneducated dialect and dialogue, a strong picture of events is painted with each new setting and event. This is certainly one to pick up and an author to watch, one holding high promise for future masterpieces.

Source: ARC received from publisher for review
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (April 13, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312563302
ISBN-13: 978-0312563301


  1. Nice review, eh I'll read this one eventually :)

  2. Me too, I'll probably read this book at some point. The last book I read with a unique dialect was Good Girl's Guide to Getting Kidnapped, which had a lot of urban slang. Glad to hear that you liked this book; the premise sure is intriguing.

  3. Sounds utterly fantastical. I really really really want to read this now. :D

  4. Nicely reviewed. Came to your site while looking for reviews on the books that we are looking forward to keep in our office library.

    Being an avid reader, I think the world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts except books. In their world, there are volumes that have seen this happen again and again and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men's hearts of the heart of men centuries dead.