Mary Faber, thirteen year old orphan, knows that there has to be something better in life than beggary and thieving in eighteenth century London. Determined to rise above the desperate street life she has been living since her parents died, she decides to join a ship’s crew. Well aware that a girl will not be taken aboard, she disguises herself as a boy. She is easily taken up as a ship’s boy because of her unusual ability to read. She looks forward to a life of adventure looking for pirates.
Of course Jacky, as she is now called, did not quite count on the particular adventures that await her. Keeping her gender a secret becomes increasingly difficult, not the least because she is attracted to one of the other ship’s boys. The pirates are a challenge in ways she was not expecting. And a sailor who discovers her secret is both malicious and dangerous. Jacky, however, is filled with pluck and spirit, and rises to each emergency with characteristic insolence.
As the book continues, Jacky grows older, so the book will appeal to teens much older than thirteen, and the maturity level of the some of the content reflects that. Jacky is a strong spirited character, who often makes choices she later regrets, but who can learn from her experiences. The story is fast paced, a rollicking ride on the high seas.