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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Greetings from Witness Protection! is an amusing thriller dealing with foster kids, adoption, kleptomania, gangsters, and self-preservation. Jake Burt's debut novel features a quick-witted tween heroine with a penchant for picking pockets. She comes by it naturally, as she was taught the skill by her grandmother and has grown up knowing that her father was arrested for robbery and possession of a weapon. Tasers, guns, using false identities, and being very careful not to blow cover frame a coming-of-age novel of the first degree.
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What's the story?
In GREETINGS FROM WITNESS PROTECTION! a 13-year-old foster kid is tapped by U.S. Marshals to help a family go deeper under cover by adding a head to their head count. Nikki Demere is plucked from her foster care home in New York City to help a family whose mob ties threaten their lives. When they relocate to Durham, North Carolina, she's forced to play daughter to a family she hardly knows. Luckily, Nikki has some very handy skills, among them a quick mind and quicker fingers, which help her fit in. And fitting in is a matter of life or death: one false move and their cover is blown, the mob shows up, end of story. But Nikki soon finds that, for the first time, she belongs to a family who needs her as much as she needs them.
Is it any good?
This delicious debut novel written by fifth-grade teacher Jake Burt nails the quick pace and turn of phrase you want a thriller for tweens to showcase. The characters in Greetings From Witness Protection! come alive with the intensity of people who are really invested in their circumstance. And the well-conceived premise doesn't disappoint when the ending pops into view.
Though the page-turning plot is deftly narrated by a savvy survivor, Nikki's necessary human vulnerability is not given all of the play it truly deserves. This is where the quick pace could have cooled its heels -- Nikki is a 13-year-old going on 30, yes, but she reads as being way more controlled than a girl her age should be. Her meltdowns are incredibly self-aware. She's inventoried herself a little too thoroughly to be real. But who needs real when you've suspended your reality to take a romp into witness protection land? Not since Miss Congeniality has deep cover been so rollicking. Here's to hoping for a series!
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what being a foster kid means. Does Greetings from Witness Protection! offer a realistic portrayal of kids who are in that system? What personality traits has Nikki developed because of her need to belong? How are foster kids portrayed in other books or shows you've encountered?
Gangsters in this book are menacing in part because they are related to the main characters. How do uncomfortable family ties affect the families in this book and other books or movies you know?
A post on Facebook blows up in the faces of the family in this story. What experiences do you have with oversharing on social media? What are some good rules of thumb to keep your privacy secure?
- Author: Jake Burt
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Middle School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
- Publication date: October 3, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 18
- Number of pages: 369
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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