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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Greetings From Witness Protection, written by Jake Burt. Feiwel and Friends, Macmillan. Raincoast. 2017. $23.99 ages 12 and up

"The first time I crashed a new school midyear was a disaster. The second time was ... well, okay, that was a disaster, too. By the third time, I started getting the hang of it. I guess that's one of the reasons the marshals picked me - I've done this sort of thing before. Granted, not as Charlotte Trevor, and not with people's lives at stake, but I know enough by now to have a plan ... "

I read a review of this novel, and knew that I wanted to read it. Thankfully, I did just that - and in one day! I only hope to meet Nicki and her new family at some future date, to see how they are doing.

Nicki is a foster kid, with some issues. The Trevors are a family in need of help. The U.S. marshals are taxed with putting the Trevors into the Witness Protection Program, and finding a way to keep a deadly crime organization from finding them. What if they change the family composition, move them to a new home, and let them start over with Nicki/Charlotte as their daughter? What could possibly go wrong?


Nicki/Charlotte is an crackerjack character - abrasive and charming, a pick pocket when nervous, thoughtful and kind, and looking to be loved. She is 13. Her life can only get better, she hopes. She does her best to maintain a quiet, inconspicuous life and keep her new family out of trouble. Her relationship with her new 'brother' is funny, and often contentious. Her past is not particularly conducive to her fitting in, but she does.

The Trevors love her and value the help she gives to keep them out of the public eye. She does nothing to make herself visible. She's not nearly as cool as she really is, she gets average grades, she makes few friends, and she doesn't do as well as she could do at basketball, even though she could be fantastic. Flying under the radar is not easy; it takes a lot of work and diligence to keep it that way.

Nicki's first person narration is powerful and strong, real and endearing. You will be happy to meet her. The pace of the story is quick, the bonds are strong, and there is a lot of fun mixed with the frightening chance for revenge if they are found. The ending is powerful, and will have readers hoping Jake Burt has another great story to tell.

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