It's been a couple of months since I read the book so I'm going to pull the summary from the Powell's site --
This brilliant, picaresque novel follows the adventures of an illiterate young ragamuffin known only as Smith. Smith picks the pocket of a stranger, only to witness immediately the strangers murder. Smith's booty from the theft is an Important Document, no doubt worth quite a lot to somebody, which is proved by the pursuit of Smith by two very shady characters. Smith artfully dodges them and winds up in the odd company of a wealthy blind man, who takes Smith into his home and provides him with an education. But this new comfort is lost when Smith himself is suspected of the very murder he witnessed. Smith was a Boston Globe--Horn Book Honor Book, winner of the Phoenix Award, and a Carnegie Honor Book.If I had to give Smith one of those strange mash-up tags I would say it's "a YA version of Dickens with all the tragedy and redemption of Jane Eyre". What it really reminds me of is Charles Palliser's The Quincunx, which I loved but which also broke my heart along the way. The nice thing is that this is a book for younger readers and so it has a happy ending. The way it takes to that ending, though, is full of servants, highwaymen and dangerous figures hidden in dark alleys. I was so in love with it that I recently bought another of Garfield's books, Black Jack. Sadly, many of his books are out of print (this one was written in 1967) and so I'm going to have to do some work to find them. I think it will be well worth the effort.
New to me is new enough,