This was a curious title to me to find in the YA section of the collection, and it is the first in a series. Since there were still installments being reviewed in the industry periodicals, and they were recommended, I knew I had to eventually read at least the title book.
The story began in 18th century London as Mary just lost her parents and little sister to illness. Being one of many orphans with no decent home to call her own, she joined a group of street urchins that managed to take care of themselves; living under a bridge, begging for food, but staying together. Once their leader was lost to them, Mary knew that to survive in the world, she would have to earn a living, and presenting herself as a boy would be her best chance. So the adventure begins. She changes her name to Jacky, and is soon hired on as a ship's boy, traveling the high seas.
Upon the book's opening, what struck me was the vernacular; everything Mary/Jacky said was in street slang. Once I got used to that, the story was riveting. It reads authentically,with no candy-coating. She faces real danger, even as a boy. There is a reason it is to be found in the YA section of the library. This is definitely a young adult read.
Aside from the mild thematic warnings (about the level of a PG-13 movie), this book is a well-done story with a smart girl as the protagonist. Try it if you like historic fiction, and perhaps you will continue to read Jacky's further adventures!