Andrea is the youngest sibling in a big cattle ranching family. The story is set in California in 1882, and opens with Andi's concern for her mare Taffy as the time approaches for her first foaling. If you or your children are not familiar with horse and ranching terminology, don't fret, you can download the 40 page Thick as Thieves Study Guide to help you better understand and more thoroughly enjoy the book. More on the study guide later!
Since Arlene is 14, and like horses, it did not surprise me that she took off to her room with the book and finished it in just a couple days. I also read the book, and enjoyed it. The plot is deep enough to hold your interest, with just enough on-the-edge adventure that you don't want to put it down. I appreciated the care given to how the book portrays Andi's inner struggles with everyday life. When a new girl comes to school, Andi is faced with the tough decision of acting with compassion or selfishness. This new girl, Macy Walker, has lived such a vastly different life than Andi that there is a serious gulf in the two girls' outlooks on life. As Andi realizes the contrast between the loving but sometimes strict family she has grown up with, and the lack of care Macy has received from her no-account brothers, her compassion grows and valuable lessons are learned. This book does a solid job of portraying how Andrea's character is molded by her family, her faith, and life lessons without being preachy.
The 40 page study guide would be a valuable resource for many families, especially if you use this as a read-aloud for a range of ages. The study guide divides the book into sections of just a few chapters each. Each section has some vocabulary exercises, plus some questions for digging deeper into the characters, the plot, or your study of horses. There is a variety of activities to help, from crossword puzzles, matching exercises, and even further reading ideas. While Arlene already knew what all the horse terminology meant (thank you summer camp,) if your reader is younger, or hasn't been around horses much, this could be a great asset.
At $9.99 for a 173 page paperback, plus a free downloadable study guide, this title is worth a look. I would recommend it as an independent read for ages 12 and up, if your horse lover is younger, or you have a variety of ages, this would make a superb read-aloud.
Arlene and I discussed that we would have liked a list of characters in the front of the book. Susan Marlow has written other books about the Carter family, and even though it isn;t necessary to have read any of them to enjoy Thick as Thieves, it took each of us a coupe chapters to sort out who was who in the story.
Thick as Thieves is the first book in the newest Andrea Carter Series . In case you don’t know anything about the books they are about a girl living on her family ranch just outside of Fresno California in the 1880s. The book starts when Andrea’s horse gives birth to twin colts, and follows her life between going to school and raising the colts, and what happens when cattle thieves steal their and other ranchers' cattle. The books are for ages 12+ however if you have younger children who you think might enjoy similar stories Susan Marlow has two other series: Circle C Beginnings for ages 6-9 and Circle C Adventures for ages 9-14.