The Beggars' Ride

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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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780531058961
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/28/1992
  • Pages: 242
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Lexile: 810L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.48 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 6, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    beggars ride review

    Words cannot describe this book it is perfect. I read another book by this author and there was a description of this on the back cover, it sounded good so i read it.In the past month and a half i read this book twice. There is simply no other book this relatable and memorable. As you read this you see how magical this story is. My favorite line is:
    "you have to be like Darwin"
    Darwin who"
    "Darwin... you know survivial of the fittest, It's us againest them, we can play by there rules and end up in the County Dump for Troubled Teens or we can make up our own rules as we go along at least then we have a fighting chance"

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 26, 2009

    My favorite book of all time, bar none.

    Wow. This book is amazing. I have read it over and over again, from when I was in elementary school and through my adulthood, and it is an unforgettable story. The character development is amazing, each one defies a stereotype and becomes a real complex friend, and you really feel like you're there with Clare, that you're friends with everyone in her gang. It is meant for young adults, but it talks about difficult topics like the many forms of child abuse, runaways, homelessness and even crime - topics that are difficult to fathom even for an adult. I highly highly recommend this book. It is one that I will go back to, always, because of the quiet wisdom in its pages.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2007

    To this day...

    To this day since the last time I read this book which was in middle school. I'm a senior now in high school, I still remember the story plot so well and how it amazed me when I read it. No one had ever told me about this book at all, I just picked it up from my school library and started reading it and found it so fascinating that I could not stop reading it. Clare's struggle through life and the friends that she meets through her running away made me think that in this world, not everyone's lives is perfect but no matter what there is always someone out that, be it your parents or not that loves you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2005

    Memorable Book

    I am now a senior in High School but i remember reading this book in 8 th gtade. This is one book that I will never forget. Its been a few years since I've read it and i had forgotten the title but thanks to the internet I found it in no time. The main charater Clare goes through many tramatizing events in the novel and with each event the reader becomes more interested in the young runaway. This book is simply touching and memorable. It's a great novel for young teens. Thank you Theresa Nelson for giving me the opportunity to read this intriguing book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2000

    The Beggar's Ride Strikes Again

    Read this excellent book by Thereasa Nelson about homeless kids who make a living by sleeping in old playgrounds and help this girl named Clare and they discover something. They discover love, family, and friendship.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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