Title: The Charlatan’s Boy
Author: Jonathan Rogers
Genre: middle grade/early YA
Length: 302 pages
Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: IndyPL
Plot Basics: Grady, an orphan, has been performing with a huckster for his whole life. They’ve traveled the length of Corenwald with Grady acting as the Wild Man of the Feechiefen Swamp. But when the feechie act starts to lose momentum, Grady and Floyd whip up a new feechie scare that leaves Grady wondering who he is and if fooling people is really a good thing to do.
Banter Points: This book is delightful. After a fairly heavy string of murder mysteries and thrillers, “Charlatan’s Boy” was a welcome breath of fresh air as a reader. It has no profanity, little violence and is beautifully put together. Yes it’s written for kids, but there is nothing juvenile about the story itself.
The book is about finding your identity and figuring out how what you do (or don’t do) contributes to the sense of who you are. As Grady says at one point, “The more we did it [the latest con], the more I felt like I was wandering away from the feller I wanted to be.” The story is at once both lyrical and hilarious.
Bummer Points: It seems like this was supposed to be a series, but there isn’t any more of it which is too bad. Luckily, Rogers has another trilogy for kids and some nonfiction for grown-ups so I can keep reading him.
Word Nerd Recommendation: I’m pushing this book hard to my friends and family right now. It’s got good, true themes that readers of all ages can relate to and it’s so well written that it’s worth the time to track it down and read it.