young adult book reviews & more

How to Steal a Car by Pete Hautman

How To Steal A CarKelleigh Monahan is not a car thief. So maybe she took some guy’s car for a joyride after picking up the keys he dropped. So what if she took her dad’s Lexus for a drive in the middle of the night without his permission. Just a couple of instances don’t add up to “car thief;” she did return those cars after all. But eventually, Kelleigh finds herself being enticed into stealing more cars, by the excitement, by all the other drama going on in her life, even once by necessity. And these times, Kelleigh doesn’t return the cars. Is this just an example of teens acting out? Maybe. But more importantly, is this who Kelleigh really is, or wants to be?

I’m not sure why I picked up this book; it’s probably the title that got me. I mean, I really don’t read that many—or any—books on car theft, so I thought How to Steal a Car would be interesting. My final verdict: though mildly amusing and exciting at times, the story seemed just pointless. I really don’t buy into one of postmodernism’s many tenets that the process is more important than the product; the process really does me no good is it ends up with an item I don’t particularly care about or completely understand. That’s how I mostly felt about Kelleigh’s story. I get why she starts stealing cars; she seeks an adrenaline thrill she can’t get from her own boring life in which her best friend tells her she dresses like a nun and her mom fixates on perfecting niceness. I even understand why she stops stealing cars without returning them; it’s just not who she is. But really, what does that all add up to? All it really states is “I’m bored and I don’t like the way my life is right now, so I think I’ll steal a car—oh wait, stealing is wrong.” There were times I could sympathize with Kelleigh, for example, with her dad’s utter lack of morals and her best friend’s obsession with superficial things, but as hard as I tried, and I really did, I just couldn’t find any deeper meaning to this story. Perhaps other readers will.

Although How to Steal a Car was meaningless to me, I don’t think the novel was either good or bad, and other readers may be able to pick up something from the story I wasn’t able to find. I really have no idea who would enjoy this book most, and since I’m not issuing a recommendation, you’ll just have to figure out for yourself if How to Steal a Car is worth reading.

Rating: 2.75

Review copy from publisher Scholastic

2 munch(es) :

Eleni said...

Great honest review :)

Kelsey said...

I have this book in my TBR pile. It looks really good. Thanks for the review..

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