THE BEGGARS' RIDE by Theresa Nelson


Age Range: 11 - 16
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 Fleeing Mama's latest (Sid), Clare rifles her purse for enough money to get to Atlantic City, where she hopes to find Joey, the only one of Mama's boyfriends to treat her kindly. But Joey's now in California, explains ``A.J.,'' the old man in the hot-dog joint whose address appeared on Joey's one letter to Clare. Falling in with a band of other runaways, Clare learns their survival tactics--a combination of scrounging, opportunism, and petty thievery--and though she's horrified by the innocence of some of their victims, she finds she has no choice. In a series of lively developments, Clare is taken in by A.J. (Joey's dad, it turns out), steals food from him for her hungry friends, then gets A.J. to help them all escape after an abortive robbery attempt. But their greatest peril--unacknowledged even to each other--is a local social worker who is also a pimp. In persuading his victims to testify against him, Clare also decides to confide in Mama about Sid's crime against her. Nelson (And One for All, 1989) stretches credibility only slightly by giving all her bruised, likable young characters at least a modicum of hope at the end. Meanwhile, she skillfully crafts her plot to dramatize the plight of young teens with no recourse from either their families or a failed system, making clear the cruel events that drove them from their homes while softening them with the kids' natural reticence. Compelling. (Fiction. 11-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-531-05896-4
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Orchard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1992


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