Age group: 12+
In his third YA novel, Vancouver author John Lekich tells the story of a most darling delinquent. Fifteen-year-old Henry Holloway burglarizes houses with loving care, often tidying up the domiciles he invades and only stealing enough to make ends meet. Left on his own after his mother’s death and his uncle’s incarceration, Henry is finally caught in the act and sent to live in the small town of Snowflake Falls to reform his sticky-fingered ways.
Despite heavy themes of homelessness and burglary, Henry’s unyielding compassion and kindness keep the tone light and breezy. Unfortunately, Henry recalls most of his burglaries in a passive voice, so readers don’t get to experience the break and enters first-hand, and the 100 pages before Henry’s arrest lack excitement and suspense.
Perhaps because Henry is such a sweet guy, the stakes remain fairly low throughout the novel. Even when Henry is arrested and shipped off to foster care, he is unbelievably chipper to the point of seeming unaffected. Indeed, his biggest complaint throughout the whole story is the talkativeness of his new foster siblings. When he does have an unkind thought about his circumstances, he is always quick to backpedal. Henry so often follows up any negativity with qualifiers like “on the other hand” or “don’t get me wrong” that the reader rarely feels there is any real conflict or threat.
While Henry and his happy-go-lucky life of crime will be too saccharine for most older teens, young people between the ages of 10 and 13 will likely find enough humour and originality in this lighthearted tale to stay engaged and – to the relief of parents – uncorrupted.