Google+ Reading Teen: Book Review: City of Orphans by Avi

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Book Review: City of Orphans by Avi

  • Reading level: Ages 10 and up
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416971025
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416971023

The streets of 1893 New York are full of life: crowded, filthy, dangerous. If you are a newsboy like thirteen-year- old Maks Geless, you need to watch out for Bruno, leader of the Plug Ugly Gang whose shadowy, sinister boss is plotting to take control of all the newsies on the lower East Side.
With Bruno’s boys in fierce pursuit, Maks discovers Willa, a strange girl who lives alone in an alley. It is she, stick in hand, who fights off the Plug Uglies—but further dangers await.
Maks must find a way to free his sister Emma from The Tombs, the city jail where she has been imprisoned for stealing a watch at the glamorous new Waldorf Hotel. Maks, believing her innocent, has only four days to prove it. Fortunately, there is Bartleby Donck, the eccentric lawyer (among other employments) to guide Maks and Willa in the art of detection.
Against a backdrop alive with the sights and sounds of tenement New York, Maks, as boy detective, must confront a teeming world of wealth and crime, while struggling against powerful forces threatening new immigrants and the fabric of family love.

My Review

Everybody loves a good mystery. To know the unknown is an exciting thing. My love for mystery started at a very young age, when I read my first Encyclopedia Brown book. To walk through the problem, gather the clues, and have a chance to figure it out on your own, is a very entertaining thing for all ages. And that is what makes City of Orphans such a great book.

I haven't read a mystery novel in years. The excitement is something that I really missed. So naturally, upon starting this book, it seldom left my hands until I had finished it. Who stole the watch? It's a bit of a cliche starter for a mystery story, but this isn't entirely what the book revolves around. Maks is a boy trying to get by in 1893 New York. It isn't easy for him, and his sister getting arrested makes matters much worse for him and his family. And since they can't afford to hire a lawyer to defend Maks' sister's case, Maks takes it upon himself to find out who really stole the watch. Honestly, I think it's a childhood dream of every guy to be the master detective. Reading another story about is not only refreshing, but also extremely entertaining.

I recommend this story to any boy who loves or loved mystery books. This is a "boy detective" story, but also very unique and creative. Very well written, and will keep you reading until the very end.


  1. Always looking for a great teen mystery -- there aren't enough of them. Thanks for the great recommendation!

  2. This sounds great! I have a son that loves Avi and didn't know about this book! I'll have to tell him about it. He's reading Anna Dressed in Blood right now. But tomorrow he'll be reading one of those Cat stories. So he switches around a lot.



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