Nicki Demere is an orphan and a pickpocket. She also happens to be the U.S. Marshals’ best bet to keep a family alive. . . .
The marshals are looking for the perfect girl to join a mother, father, and son on the run from the nation’s most notorious criminals. After all, the bad guys are searching for a family with one kid, not two, and adding a streetwise girl who knows a little something about hiding things may be just what the marshals need.
Nicki swears she can keep the Trevor family safe, but to do so she’ll have to dodge hitmen, cyberbullies, and the specter of standardized testing, all while maintaining her marshal-mandated B-minus average. As she barely balances the responsibilities of her new identity, Nicki learns that the biggest threats to her family’s security might not lurk on the road from New York to North Carolina, but rather in her own past.
Jake Burt's debut middle-grade novel Greetings from Witness Protection! is as funny as it is poignant.--from the publisher
368 pages 978-1250107114 Ages 10-14
New York City kid Nicki has been in foster care since the death of her grandmother, who taught her how to be a pickpocket. It's been hard to find a permanent place with her background and attitude, so she's a bit surprised when she is approached by the marshalls of the Witness Protection Program to join a family. Her father has been released from jail but has never come back to claim her, which helps her make her decision. Not only would she join the Sicurezzas, but they would be unable to send her back to the Center, and all her previous records would be destroyed. Why? Elena Sicurezza worked with her brother, a big shot in the Cercatore family syndicate, but crossed him. In order to better hide the family, their name is being changed, they are moving to the south, and the federal agents feel that adding another child to the family will make them harder to trace. Nicki changes her name to Charlotte and moves into a new house with "Harriet Trevor", "Jonathan", and their son, "Jackson". It's an adjestment, especially since "Charlotte" can't commit any crimes, has to keep a B- average, can't be photographed or use social media, and has to generally lay pretty low. Luckily, new neighbor Britney is friendly, and the two gets along even though Britney warns Charlotte that she isn't popular. Slowly but surely, Charlotte learns to live with the Trevors, get along in school, and come to terms with her own past, which might just be the most dangerous part of the entire relocation. Strengths: Most middle schoolers secretly wish that they could leave their own families and be someone else, at least part of the time. Following Nicki's story is one way for them to do this. She's a flawed but sympathetic character, and her issues are an intriguing lens through which to view ordinary middle school problems. Weaknesses: Pretty sure that neither foster care nor real witness protection programs work in real life the way they do in the book. There's some suspension of disbelief necessary to buy into this premise. What I really think: Definitely purchasing, since it was an entertaining, well-written story. This is a fun way to get readers who like realistic fiction interested in spy type books, I think, and might encourage them to go on and read things like Carter's Gallagher Girls books.
Recommended by: Karen Yingling, Library Specialist, Ohio USA
See more of her recommendations: msyinglingreads.blogspot.com