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Thieving Weasels
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Thieving Weasels
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Skip O'Rourke is dragged into one last con . . . but he doesn't know the con's on him in this funny, page-turning debut YA for fans of Winger and Ocean's Eleven, now nominated for the Edgar Award and...
Skip O'Rourke is dragged into one last con . . . but he doesn't know the con's on him in this funny, page-turning debut YA for fans of Winger and Ocean's Eleven, now nominated for the Edgar Award and...
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Description-

  • Skip O'Rourke is dragged into one last con . . . but he doesn't know the con's on him in this funny, page-turning debut YA for fans of Winger and Ocean's Eleven, now nominated for the Edgar Award and the International Thriller Writers Award.
    Cameron Smith attends an elite boarding school and has just been accepted to Princeton University alongside his beautiful girlfriend, Claire. Life for Cameron would be perfect, except that Cameron Smith is actually Skip O'Rourke, and Skip O'Rourke ran away from his grifter family four years ago...along with $100,000 of their "earnings" (because starting a new life is not cheap). But when his uncle Wonderful tracks him down, Skip's given an ultimatum: come back to the family for one last con, or say good-bye to life as Cameron.
    "One last con" is easier said than done when Skip's family is just as merciless (and just as manipulative) as they've always been, and everyone around him is lying. Skip may have given up on crime, but there's one lesson he hasn't forgotten: always know your mark. And if you don't know who your mark is . . . it's probably you.
    Witty and irresistibly readable, this standout debut will always keep you guessing.

Excerpts-

  • From the book ***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof***

    Copyright © 2016 Billy Taylor

    1

    I would have killed to go to Princeton.

    Yale, Dartmouth, and Stanford were my top choices, and the universities of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Texas were my backups. They were all great schools, and I would have been happy to attend any one of them. Or at least I would have until I met Claire. Then the only schools I cared about were Princeton, Princeton, and Princeton, though not necessarily in that order.

    Pop Quiz: Did you know F. Scott Fitzgerald went to Princeton? And presidents Woodrow Wilson and Grover Cleveland? Even John F. Kennedy went there, but he couldn't hack it and transferred to some third-rate dump named Harvard. The list of influential Princeton grads is insanely impressive and includes everyone from astronauts and Supreme Court justices to CEOs and Nobel Prize winners. If college was a superhero, Princeton would be Batman. (Sorry, Superman.) If prestige were a sporting event, Princeton would be the Super Bowl. I'm not kidding.

    And I'd taken no chances on getting in. I'd read every blog, manual, and how-to guide on the subject, crushed my SATs, and polished my personal essay until it sparkled like a priceless gem. Just as important, I'd made sure my clubs and extracurricular activities were commendable; my sport of choice not-too-obvious or not-too-obscure (lacrosse); and my financial aid form a work of art. In other words, I'd done everything humanly possible to get into Princeton. Then, when there was nothing else left to do, I checked the box for Early Decision, mailed out my application, and waited.

    And waited. And . . .

    W . . . A . . . I . . . T . . . E . . . D . . .

    But here's the thing about applying to a major university. It doesn't matter if you're Prince Albert or Albert Einstein— who once taught at Princeton, by the way—nobody in the admissions office will tell you squat, no matter how much you beg, plead, or threaten. Which in the case of early decision applicants like me, meant one-and-a-half months of pure, undiluted torture. My only solace was that I was not alone. Twenty-one of my classmates at Wheaton Preparatory Academy had applied for early decision to their schools, and for the next six weeks we greeted one another with the same anxious words:

    "You hear anything yet?"

    The answer was always No, and by Thanksgiving we were twenty-two sleep-deprived zombies. The following week, out of a combination of camaraderie and desperation, we began meeting up in the school mail room to watch—in slow motion and extreme close up—as Mrs. Daulton, Wheaton's million-year-old and molasses-legged mail lady, squinted at each and every piece of mail and slowly, Slowly, SLOWLY, placed it in our slots.

    Finally, on December fourteenth, the letters began arriving. There were tears and cheers, hugs and high fives, wishes granted and dreams shattered. But the one thing that didn't arrive was my acceptance letter. It was excruciating, and I spent countless hours searching for meaning in my predicament. Was my letter's tardiness a good thing or bad? Did this improve my odds or decimate them? If a Princeton applicant ran into the woods and screamed his head off and nobody heard him, did that make him a complete idiot? I had no idea. All I knew was that by the end of the semester I was the only one left waiting, and I was losing my mind.

    "Cam?"

    I looked up, and Mrs. Daulton was holding something in her hand. It was white and thin and looked like a letter from a major university. I shot across the room and snatched it from her fingers. The return address read...

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 22, 2016
    Adult author Taylor's (Based on a Movie) first book for teens quickly draws sympathy for Cam Smith, a graduating high school senior who works at the cafeteria to afford tuition at his private boarding school. Cam may have his sights set on Princeton, but he is anything but privileged—he ran away from his con-artist family in hopes of starting over and pursuing a normal life. Now that the family has tracked Cam down and wants his help on their latest scheme, Cam's above-board life is in jeopardy. Taylor's characters—including gun-toting, tough-talking, biscotti-eating Uncle Wonderful; Hummer-driving, disability-fraudulent Vinny; and conscience-free cousin Roy—will feel plenty familiar to fans of the con-artist/tough guy genre. Taylor puts Cam in an impossible position, unable to trust anyone (especially if they're family) and uncertain whether he can escape his past. As Cam tries to juggle the nefarious demands of his relatives and his own respectable ambitions, Taylor's comedic crime novel entertains with its madcap, rapid-fire antics. Ages 12–up. Agent: Uwe Stender, TriadaUS Literary.

  • Kirkus

    June 1, 2016
    Cam Smith has only one wish: to escape his criminal family. He has managed to get himself into the prestigious Wheaton Preparatory Academy and plans to go to Princeton when his family shows up to ruin everything.Cam's life at his school is going splendidly, with a wonderful, rich girlfriend, Claire, who doesn't know about his thieving family or that his real name is Skip O'Rourke. It's all upended when Uncle Wonderful, now the head of the family, essentially kidnaps him and forces him to come home, telling him that his mother tried to commit suicide and now is in the hospital. It turns out that his mom and the family want to involve Cam in a complicated scam that has him killing an old mobster who had murdered their mark's family. Cam is too smart to trust any of his family, including his mother, but decides to follow through--or at least to appear to do so. All the while he wonders who the family's real victim might be: the mark, the mobster, or himself. Can Cam find a way to win after all? Writing in Cam's oh-so-suspicious voice, Taylor milks the plot for comedy, delivering plenty of dark humor. His white, gangster characters come across as more than a bit stereotypical, but it all helps to set up the laughs. A diverting caper comedy. (Thriller. 12-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    June 1, 2016

    Gr 8 Up-"Always know your mark. And if you don't know who your mark is...it's probably YOU." Raised by crooks, Skip O'Rourke engineered an escape from the family and conned his way into prestigious Wheaton Academy. He's just been accepted to Princeton when the family tracks him down and makes an unwelcome proposition: help with one final job, or have his cover blown for good. Skip unwillingly agrees, but as the plans are laid to "off" Fat Nicky Gangliosi, the teen becomes more and more aware that this endeavor isn't about aging gangsters at all-it's all about revenge, and he's the target. Luckily, it takes a con man to take down a con man, and Skip's been trained by the best. The protagonist is an engaging narrator, and readers will soon be convinced that he really is trying to avoid a life of crime. It's almost eerie how much this story resembles Joe Schreiber's Con Academy, also about a good-hearted kid raised by crooks who attends a prestigious prep school and is forced into one last action by the family lowlifes. This novel will be an easy sell for teens who enjoyed Con Academy, but don't buy it expecting character development or social commentary. Still, a fun choice for readers tired of angsty YAs. VERDICT Purchase where Jude Watson's Loot and Mary Elizabeth Summer's Trust Me, I'm Lying are popular.-Elizabeth Friend, Wester Middle School, TX

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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