________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 17. . . .January 7, 2011


Thief Girl. (SideStreets).

Ingrid Lee.
Toronto, ON: Lorimer, 2010.
152 pp., pbk., hc. & eBook, $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.), $8.95 (eBook).
ISBN 978-1-55277-538-7 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-1-55277-539-4 (hc.),
ISBN 978-1-55277-540-0 (eBook).

Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.

Review by Tara Stieglitz.

** /4



I punched in the first three numbers and paused. What would happen if I was wrong? Would the machine eat the card? Would a hand come out and grab me by the neck?

My finger was shaking so much I could barely aim straight. I tapped in the last number as if the key were a hot wok.

It worked. All my doubts gone, I punched in the amount I wanted to withdraw. One hundred dollars shout out of the slot into my hand.

I was a genius.

I was a thief.

Avvy Go lives in two worlds. She is from an immigrant family that struggles to make ends meet; yet she goes to school in a wealthy neighbourhood. Avvy finds herself being torn between her loyalty and love for her foster sister, who works as a nanny for a wealthy family that treats her poorly, and her desire to be friends with the popular daughter of the same family. Avvy also worries about her bullied younger brother whom she wants to help but can't think of how. She is also torn between her desire for a social life and the fact that she must spend every evening and weekend working at her family's Chinese take-out food court kiosk.

     When Avvy finds a lost wallet with a bank card inside, she does not initially even consider theft, as such an action would go against all she was taught by her honest, hardworking parents. But the lure of the bank card proves too much for her when she is motivated by a strong desire to help her parents and her bullied younger brother. Avvy secretly uses the stolen money from the card to help her parents and her brother. These acts of dishonest generosity force her to lie to her family and then compound her lies with further deceptions. Avvy finds herself having to tell an increasing number of lies to keep her theft from being discovered, even as she tries to return the money she stole to the rightful owner. Thief Girl tells the story of Avvy's moral struggle as she finds herself lying to her family when all she wants to do is help them succeed.

     Thief Girl is densely plotted and fast paced, making it ideal for teen readers. The characters are compelling, and Avvy's realistic motivations create a character to whom readers can relate. The crisp, efficient writing makes Thief Girl an easy and engaging read. While the content is appropriate for teens, Thief Girl is written at a much lower reading level, thereby making it an excellent choice for students who read below grade level or are learning English as a second language. The greatest weakness of the novel is that the story, itself, is derivative and predictable and relies heavily on coincidence.

     Written from Avvy's point of view, Thief Girl is an emotionally engaging novel that suffers from a slightly derivative plot and a contrived ending. Overall, Thief Girl makes for a good read that relates the realistic problems of teens who don't fit in but strive to be accepted by their peers.


Tara Stieglitz is a librarian in Edmonton, AB, and a recent graduate of the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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