Skip O'Rourke is dragged into one last con . . . but he doesn't know the con's on him in this funny, page-turning debut YA for fans of Winger and Ocean’s Eleven.
Cameron Smith attends an elite boarding school and has just been accepted to Princeton University alongside his beautiful girlfriend, Claire. Life for Cameron would be perfect, except that Cameron Smith is actually Skip O'Rourke, and Skip O'Rourke ran away from his grifter family four years ago...along with $100,000 of their “earnings” (because starting a new life is not cheap). But when his uncle Wonderful tracks him down, Skip's given an ultimatum: come back to the family for one last con, or say good-bye to life as Cameron.
"One last con" is easier said than done when Skip's family is just as merciless (and just as manipulative) as they've always been, and everyone around him is lying. Skip may have given up on crime, but there's one lesson he hasn't forgotten: always know your mark. And if you don't know who your mark is . . . it's probably you.
Witty and irresistibly readable, this standout debut will always keep you guessing.
Thieving Weaselsby Billy Taylor
I’ll be honest. I wasn’t exactly sure what to make of this book at first. The concept seems so far-fetched: A kid, who has grown up knowing nothing but a life of crime with his family, leaving home in his early teens to attend a prestigious prep school, no parental involvement, life on his own navigating the waters of prep school high society and all its trappings. But then the characters started to grow on me. By the end, I found myself rooting for Skip, or Cam, or what is his real name again?
This book definitely has a dark edge to it. Skip’s family is a family of criminals. Short of committing murder, there isn’t a felony the family hasn’t committed. The crime that Skip is recruited to commit goes another step further in that it is a scam revolving around murder. The family has been hired to carry out a hit and while their plan is to just make it look like a murder happened, the details of planning and committing a murder are laid out.
The hard part about this book is balancing the humor and awkward scenarios that the characters find themselves in with the content of criminal activity not being humorous. As the book unfolds, Skip has to come to terms with whether he is the scammer or the scamee. Not a bad read and is probably best for older young adult readers, due to the mature themes (see below).
Language: 10 religious exclamations; 49 mild obscenities; 11 derogatory names; 17 scatological words; 12 anatomical terms; 1 offensive hand gesture; 1 f-word derivative.
Violence/Gore: Mother strangles son (does not kill) with bare hands; mother punches son in face, breaking noise with blood on face and hands; man recounts beating another man to death with a tire iron; man falls and breaks head open on table with blood portrayed; teen bites tongue and spits blood out window; child smashes and destroys televisions; children race and crash stolen bikes; parking toll booth hit by car and explodes; man chokes another with a golf club; man threatens to stab man by holding fork to neck; teen and adult get in fist fight and knife is pulled on teen; teen beats up teen thief; adult smashes teens head into doorjamb; man slaps teens face; teen punches another in stomach; teen kicks another in the wrist; adult knocks teen to the ground; story told of adult being shot during murder attempt; story told of women being killed while driving under the influence; mother attempts suicide (no details); man threatens to break teens arm (twice); death threats made (teen to adult and vice versa) (three times); man recounts story of family being killed in bombing; man recounts story of breaking his own father’s fingers; man recounts story of being shot; young adult drives while under the influence injuring self and killing another.
Sex/Nudity: Teens kiss (three times); reference to the possibility of having sex; two teens have sex, scene with no graphic details.
Mature Subject Matter:
Death of family members, attempted suicide, gambling, emotional and physical child abuse, drug addiction, marriage infidelity, robbery, murder, illegal drugs, embezzlement, bribing, check fraud, welfare fraud, computer hacking, underage drinking, smoking, mention of prostitution.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Adult and underage drinking throughout book; adult and underage smoking of both cigarettes and marijuana; prescription drug abuse by adults; selling of drugs; meth use by young adult.
Reviewed By Beckie