cover image Greetings from Witness Protection!

Greetings from Witness Protection!

Jake Burt. Feiwel and Friends, $16.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-10711-4

The biggest complaint that readers may have about Burt’s debut novel is that it ends. Sassy, snarky Nicki Demere—a 13-year-old foster kid with a big heart and the quick hands of a seasoned thief—is commissioned by the U.S. marshals to join a family in the Witness Protection Program that is hiding from one of the deadliest crime organizations in the country. As daughter Charlotte, she’ll help them fly under the radar in North Carolina. Nicki/Charlotte is caustically charming (“I wondered how much pressure you could lift off new kids at a school if they could say ‘Sorry, I’d try harder, but the U.S. government ordered me not to be that cool’ ”), and despite her propensity to pick people’s pockets when she’s nervous, her eagerness to love (and be loved) and her unabashed bluntness make her endearing from page one. Burt nimbly balances the very real danger the family is in with new family/new town hijinks that keep the story light; Charlotte’s banter with her new “brother” is spot-on funny, and the nail-biter of a climax doesn’t disappoint. Ages 10–14. Agent: Rebecca Stead, Book Group. (Oct.)