In this novel, Hillman made it a point to form a connection between the reader and each of the main characters that appeared in the web of plot lines. Livy, a pick-pocket from Chicago, ran from her past to the small town of Chestnut, Illinois. She kept her past a secret from everyone almost everyone around her, until it comes back to stake its claim and ruin her new life as a Orphanage director. We all have a past, and whether we choose to run from it or not, there are often more than a few things we're not proud of. This past brings Livy to life for the readers, allowing them to compare their past to hers.
Jake, a sheriff deputy, is doing all he can for his family. Ever since a mining accident killed his father, it's up to him to take care of the family and see to it that they survive. Every family has a member like this - the one that is responsible, or who makes it their responsibility, to ensure the family stays together. Whether or not the reader has that role in their own family, the connection tugs at more than one heart string. The reader finds him/her self struggling to make sure that Jake makes the right decisions for his family.
Luke, a little boy caught in Chicago and sold to the highest bidder to work in a sewing factory, escapes his fate but lives on the streets of Chestnut so he can try to save his brother, Mark, from the evils of the factory life. He's so scared to trust anyone that it's a struggle to find help in the city of Chestnut. All he has to do is ask, and he will have a warm bed and delicious meal. His past experience with trusting people ensures that he can't take this chance if he wants to save Mark. Trust is a huge part of any person's life, without trust any kind of relationship is doomed to fail. The reader can connect to Luke because of their own experiences with trusting someone who turns out to be less than they seemed.
This novel has many avenues in which the reader can draw comparisons into their own lives. It leaves them questioning if, in the character's shoes, they would make the same decisions? Do we dare accept our past and move into the future, knowing that their could be judgement? Do we gamble with the responsibility we hold in our family life? And do we learn to be open and trust those around us? Further so, if we do, then how?
Stealing Jake on Amazon