Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Convicts by Iain Lawrence

19 century London was an exciting and dangerous place for 14-year-old Tom Tin. The son of a sea captain unjustly sent to debtor’s prison for standing up to an evil businessman, Tom sets out to rescue his father and the family’s future. He is soon caught up in the London underworld of grave robbers and crime-hardened juvenile gangs. Tom is mistaken for a gang member known as the Smasher, and winds up convicted of murder. He is sentenced to seven years hard labor in Australia, a common fate in those days, and sent to a vile convict ship anchored in the Thames River to await transport. Here things become even worse as he deals with a cruel captain, vicious bullies, and a very bad case of sea sickness. The ship is where Tom discovers he has the courage and heart to resume his quest. The Convicts comes to a satisfactory conclusion, but not without a price. I liked this book for its realistic picture of London. Tom is a character that will certainly hold your interest - he’s not a typical hero and his doubts and faults make his final triumph all the more enjoyable. The author focuses on the ugly and gross conditions of the time, but it made the book seem more believable. I would recommend it to anyone who likes an exciting, historical adventure story. Review by Tom Viti

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