A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that as the title suggests, most of the characters in the darkly comic Thieving Weasels are not nice people. The book requires a reader mature (and maybe a bit cynical) enough to navigate a world seen by a 17-year-old whose childhood in a family of petty crooks was one fraud, scam, and rip-off after the next and who now finds himself trapped in a scheme to kill an ex-mobster. The story and Cam's narrative voice are often hysterically funny as he tries to escape his relatives and live a normal, decent life, which requires beating his lowlife family at their own game. There's strong language and lots of drinking, smoking tobacco and marijuana, and doing other drugs by both teens and adults (one character is both using and selling meth, while another is stealing from pharmacies, selling the pills, and keeping another character hooked on pain pills), all presented in a negative light.
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What's the story?
As THIEVING WEASELS begins, scholarship student Cam Smith has made the most of his years at posh Wheaton Academy, studying hard, working in the cafeteria, finding the perfect girlfriend -- and now, being accepted at Princeton. Trouble is, Cam Smith doesn't actually exist; he's one of many fake identities used by Skip O'Rourke, child and pawn of the O'Rourke clan of grifters, con artists, and scammers. At 13, Skip decided he wanted a non-criminal life as a regular person, ran away from his family, and assumed the identity of "Cam." Almost four years later, he gets a rude surprise when his scuzzy uncle turns up, demanding he return to the fold and help out with "one last job." Otherwise, Cam's perfect life will be history.
Is it any good?
Dark, profane, and often hysterically funny, Billy Taylor's YA debut finds a Princeton-bound prep-schooler trying to escape his birth family of liars, crooks, scoundrels, and possibly murderers. Narrator Cam's efforts to stay one step ahead of his thieving relatives involve outsmarting them -- but also a return to the criminal ways of his youth.
The pace is quick -- the better to entangle the reader in the convoluted plots the characters devise against one another -- with more than a few nail-biting moments before the final confrontation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Thieving Weasels as an example of a story of a seriously toxic family. What other examples do you know? Are they always funny?
Sometimes your family supports you. Sometimes it can seem as if they're holding you back. Do you or your friends feel this way? How do you strike the right balance?
Do you think it's possible for people to overcome a bad start and change their ways, or are they doomed to stay on the same path forever?
- Author: Billy Taylor
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Dial
- Publication date: August 23, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 256
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 13, 2017
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