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THE MUSIC THIEF by Peni R. Griffin


by Peni R. Griffin

Age Range: 10 - 12

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-8050-7055-9
Publisher: Henry Holt

A child sneaks into a neighbor’s empty house seeking refuge from her noisy, overcrowded one in this tale of loss and hard life choices. Combined with the recent death of her beloved abuela, the news that Jovita, a rising young local singer whom she idolizes, has been killed in a drive-by rocks 11-year-old Alma’s world. Desperate to escape the constant squabbling of her older sister and brother—the one a high-school dropout with a baby, the other already running drugs—to grieve in private, she takes advantage of a loose screen next door, and finds herself in a record-filled house belonging to a music teacher who’s gone during the day. Need overcoming guilt, Alma returns whenever she can get away, listening to recorded music and also the songs in her own head, carefully cleaning up after herself each time before leaving. Is she doing wrong? Yes, but she doesn’t pay the price until her brother follows her one day, and with a rough companion gleefully begins burglarizing the house. Griffin (Ghost Sitter, 2001, etc.) surrounds Alma with characters heading in different directions: some, like Jovita, working hard to better their lot, others, like her brother and sister, sliding down slippery slopes. The author observes without moralizing, allowing readers a clearer view of choices in their own lives, as well an understanding that Alma’s decision to call the police, and her genuine remorse, reveals admirable levels of courage and integrity. (Fiction. 10-12)