Cover Image: Portrait of a Thief

Portrait of a Thief

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Member Reviews

This wasn't what I expected. 

A heist! I love it. Sign me up. But...the heist(s) in this story fell flat.

I would like to read more from this author regarding identity and culture, because I really enjoyed those bits and thought they were well-executed, but not sure the action was there for a book that promised action and mystery.
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Heists! Drama! Teetering into the abyss that is adulthood! Deep thoughts on art and ownership and colonization and theft! And did I mention heists?

Setting aside that these young adults (college-aged) had more deep thoughts about purpose and passion and the meaning of it all than I ever did at that age (and I'm only in my 30s, so that wasn't *that* long ago, right?), this absolutely hooked me. Come for the heists (I mentioned those, right?), stay for the smarts. Loved it.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and its characters, who were all vividly written and unusually interesting. While it is technically about art heists, it is as much about relationships, the immigrant experience and growing up in the diaspora. I found it fascinating and also quite fun!
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I did have slightly different expectations going into this novel, but having it be more character studies versus heist-based sequences was actually surprisingly compelling for me to read. (And I probably should have guessed that’s what it would be, considering the title of the book.) It was paced well, and I found that the short chapters and switches in POV worked for this tale. But what really interested me in the end were the different views the characters had about their histories, these heists, their thoughts about China and being Chinese and their futures. Their contemplations and expressed feelings definitely rang with the sort of honest truth that I am sure will resonate with other children of the diaspora.
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Very cool idea. Unfortunately I found the writing style and characters too difficult to get through and could not finish this one. A real shame, because I had high hopes!
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I think this is less about a heist and more of a character driven story, but I did enjoy the heist angle. I liked the angle of the Asian American culture woven within the pages as well. The art heist was almost second fiddle to the culture, but I'm OK with that. 

I received an advance copy. All thoughts are my own.
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Wow! This was an absolute delight to read! Definitely one of my top reads of 2022 and I can’t wait to read more by this author!
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This one wasn't for me. I truly wanted to get into it, but couldn't. I may try to circle back at one point, but for now this is a "did not finish" for me.
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I love a book about a heist, so after reading the synopsis for Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li, I knew I had to read it. 

Inspired by true events of Chinese art disappearing from Western museums, this story of Chinese American young adults each agreeing to steal art for their own reasons had all of the potential for greatness but fell slightly flat. Still, I'll certainly read more from this author, as the concept alone kept me engaged to the end. I honestly just wanted more. 

Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for sharing this book with me. All thoughts are my own.
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OMG! This was one of my favorite books in 2022. I couldn’t put it down, I absolutely loved the plot and characters. It’s a bit difficult to review because I’d hate to spoil anything for a future reader.
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This one took me a few times starting over to finally get into it - I think I was expecting a more fast-paced heist novel based on the description, but it's much more of a slow-burn. Writing is great! Characters are very dynamic. Overall, a very fun and interesting read.
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I absolutely love a heist story, but this one is definitely more focused on the relationships between the characters and their own existential musings than the heists themselves. I think if I would've known that going in, I would have had different expectations. I love the blend of cultures in the book and it's beautifully written.
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I was sad about this one. The writing was lovely, and I love love loved the premise (and important rep & points made), but I wanted to see more of the actual heist on page.
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This book mentioned that it would be like “Ocean's 11” well it did not even come close to any of those movies or even to any of the real heist books I have read. The characters are college seniors told to stell a historical piece. As with my review, I really felt they could have done a better job I just felt it lacking.
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Great book and enjoyed the characters . loved the slight romance and the how well the group worked together. Overall a great book . I would read this author again.
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I really enjoyed this one! I felt like the beginning was a bit slow to start, but once the heists started I was hooked! 

I loved all of the little details, the flashbacks to the planning/what the rest of the crew was up to. Super cinematic!
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My memory is a little fuzzy regarding the details. But I remember just enough to provide some insight. 

1. The history of art was super interesting. And since the art scene isn't one that I mingle with, it was interesting to learn how rich people just buy stuff and it isn't really considered lost property anymore...
2. Who doesn't love a heist with a rag tag team?
3. I didn't love the lack of pragmatism. It really was like....oh, okay, you got away with it....yeah...right...
4. Loved that one of their dad's was a big wig in the art thievery world. Fun added element. 

Overall, I think the story was fun. But I think if you need a realistic storyline, you might be annoyed.
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This was a fun, but insightful read.  It really covered the topic of identity, appropriation, and family.
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If it were possible for me to read this book again for the first time I would take that chance in a heartbeat. I loved the plot and the characters were well-rounded. I can't wait to see what Li does next!
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Character-driven books should be done like this!
A heist to steal back what has been stolen from your country, a group of college/university students with the determination and devotion to pull off the impossible!

Lily and Daniel were by far my favourites!

The risk of following dreams was too much for many of these characters, yet a heist to retrieve Chinese artefacts is a risk worth taking, almost like the stolen dreams of a country need to be returned home before they can pursue their own goals.

I loved how the characters have the echo of similar aches (leaving their country or working for a better future compared to their parents), each fell on different paths yet ended up together, and their voices and choices were so similar and different; it made it so captivating and understandable! The group's dynamic was also so realistic; Daniel glued them together, and without him, the glue fell apart as it was the connection part, and they had to work together and learn about each other to get by without him.
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