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City of Orphans: 03/27/20
City of Orphans by Avi is set in New York City in 1893, five years before the consolidation of the five boroughs. Maks Geless is a newsie, supporting his family by selling papers. He has Bruno and the Pug Ugly gang to contend with. He can usually avoid them but that all changes when he befriends an orphan girl who then beats up Bruno in self defense.
Meanwhile, Maks's sister is jailed, accused of stealing from a guest at the hotel where she works. Convinced that it's a con job, Maks does everything he can to free his sister, including hiring an ailing lawyer and decides to do one last trial pro bono.
It's a tightly plotted story with no character or scene being wasted. There are times when Maks's narration, talking right to reader, gets in the way of the flow.
For me, what kept me reading more than anything else was Willa's story. She's been living in an alley since her mother died and her father left her. She's street smart and brave in ways that Maks isn't.
Willa's story also puts this novel into the road narrative spectrum. She is an orphan traveler (FF) — and quite possibly a literal one. Her goal or destination is to find a new home (66). Her route is the Blue Highway — or put more precisely, the streets of New York. Put altogether, it's the tale of an orphan finding a new home via the Blue Highways.