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An orphaned teen in the notorious Five Points district of lower Manhattan in 1854, Pencil’s cursed to scavenge the unforgiving streets where trust is a stranger. Even as slavery has divided the nation, the good Pencil comes across is as rare as a precious gem buried in the manure-strewn streets of Gotham. The shady adults who surround him believe he’s a “hobbhadehoy,” a youth who hasn’t quite reached manhood. Despite years of neglect, he hasn’t lost his empathy for others and a fledgling sense of justice. As the lieutenant of a pack of street rats, he craves greater control of his life. His luck finally runs out when through someone’s treachery, he faces significant prison time.

Pencil’s grasps another opportunity when he’s shipped off to Ohio on one of the first “orphan trains.” Life on the farm proves to be a different challenge under the demanding, and occasionally drunken, thumb of his new guardian. Ultimately, he’s forced to flee, a much stronger physical specimen than when he arrived.

Pencil ends up in Cleveland, where a daguerreotypist takes him under her wing. She teaches him about capturing images on glass and copper while trying to impress upon him the importance of trust. Encounters with corpses, kidnappers, and grave robbers test his acceptance of the idea … and justice.

"Hobbadehoy Rising" by Max Willi Fischer

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