The Beggars' Ride by Theresa Nelson, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
The Beggars' Ride

The Beggars' Ride

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by Theresa Nelson

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Clare, 12, runs away from home, propelled by her mother's drinking and especially by the sexual abuse by her mother's boyfriend. She heads for Atlantic City, N.J., where she joins a group of runaways who steal to stay alive, and who avoid the city's socialservice network because of the abuse some of them have encountered there. Only after considerable hardships does Clare tell her mother about the abuse and return home; her friends, having likewise spoken out, end up in various foster placements. Nelson (The 25cts Miracle; And One for All) creates characters who are sympathetic-often despite their actionsbecause of the genuine bonds they forge with one another and because of their resiliency and hope. As the novel progresses its plot grows quite intricate, and the summarized, somewhat rushed conclusion somewhat dilutes the impact of the teenagers' courage in at last revealing their plight. Still, this is an unvarnished, compelling and, sadly, relevant story. Ages 11-up. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-- Dressed in cutoff jeans, a black T-shirt, and green high heels, Clare, 12, takes $44 from her drunken mother's purse and runs away from an abusive home situation to find the one adult who seemed to care about her, her mother's ex-boyfriend. Upon learning that he has gone to California, she finds herself stranded in the sleazy world of Atlantic City and meets a group of similar misfits. What follows is a riveting adventure populated by a cast of homeless, young teens who survive by sheer determination, street smarts, and wits. Deceit, theft, shoplifting, and pickpocketing are a daily part of their existence. Clare is not proud of her new life style, but she feels she has nowhere to go, no options, for the odds are stacked against her and her new friends. Let down by those who should be caring for them, they have their own code of behavior and look out for one another in the closest thing to family commitment many of them have known, no matter how dangerous or tenuous it is. Nelson's characters leap to life as their backgrounds and circumstances slowly emerge. It's a powerful story that's often painful and all too real, but there is a ray of hope at the end: there are adults to care, who can help--and who will. This is survival adventure in the truest sense, and it's sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats until the final ride. --Trev Jones, School Library Journal
Stephanie Zvirin
Clare can't stay home anymore, not with Mama's live-in boyfriend molesting her. But when she runs away to find Joey, her mother's previous boyfriend, at his address in Atlantic City, he's not there. Instead she finds proper old A. J. (who calls her "miss") and his hot dog joint with an airplane in the basement. And A. J. has all the letters she sent to Joey--still unopened. Where can a runaway 12-year-old girl with scraggly red hair and green spiked heels go? Danger is everywhere in Nelson's crystalline picture of life on the streets. Certainly, Clare confronts physical peril--starvation, illness, violence--but she also grapples with moral contradictions. When she first joins secretive Cowboy's gang of homeless kids, she wonders if she can steal like they do, exploit instead of be exploited. She recognizes other choices, but adults, who offer them, have proved untrustworthy in the past. Cowboy's gang helps her survive and becomes her family, but the kids in the group aren't as well-realized as their brutal world, and their problems seem easily resolved. Nelson gives us plenty of tense, memorable scenes, though--when the kids work their scams; when they confront Griffey, an unscrupulous social worker who exploits his charges (sometimes sexually); and when Cowboy is accidentally stabbed by a frightened homeless man trying to protect his family. And there's real glory in the scene in which A. J. begins a new cycle of adult-child trust by flying wounded Cowboy and the kids to temporary safety in his old plane.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.73(d)

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