Rules for Stealing Stars
author : corey ann haydu
pages : [hardcover] 336
In the tradition of Sharon Creech and Wendy Mass, Corey Ann Haydu’s sparkling middle grade debut is a sister story with a twist of magic, a swirl of darkness, and a whole lot of hope.
Silly is used to feeling left out. Her three older sisters think she’s too little for most things—especially when it comes to dealing with their mother’s unpredictable moods and outbursts. This summer, Silly feels more alone than ever when her sisters keep whispering and sneaking away to their rooms together, returning with signs that something mysterious is afoot: sporting sunburned cheeks smudged with glitter and gold hair that looks like tinsel.
When Silly is brought into her sisters’ world, the truth is more exciting than she ever imagined. The sisters have discovered a magical place that gives them what they truly need: an escape from the complications of their home life. But there are dark truths there, too. Silly hopes the magic will be the secret to saving their family, but she’s soon forced to wonder if it could tear them apart
This is a middle grade novel but it deals with some pretty tough issues. Four sisters need to band together and decide what to do as they live with the reality of their mother’s mental illness and a father who’d really prefer to pretend to them that nothing is going wrong. As the story escalates, so too do the magical elements that make things a little easier for the girls because their mother’s illness is never explained to them, never defined, and they’re left in a helpless, spiraling situation.
Silly is the youngest girl so she often feels left out and then angry that she’s considered too childish whenever she wishes to join in on her sister’s adventures. Of course, she doesn’t realize that what the three older sisters are doing has magic to it until they finally let Silly in that inner circle. But is she ready to grow up, handle responsibility, and care for her sisters like they’ve been trying to protect her all these years?
I liked Rules for Stealing Stars because it wasn’t perfect. As much as it talked about fairy tales, this isn’t one; it’s real life and that means things are imperfect, parents don’t always have all of the answers, and no prince is going to come sweeping in to make everything okay. There is no magical cure for their mother. I also loved how through most of the story you’re left to wonder at the magic contained in the girls’ closets. Is it really there or all they all imagining it as a coping mechanism?
There were some things I didn’t really care for. The writing didn’t grasp me, though I think it will be great for younger readers who are just beginning to read about these situations where a parent is the one who might need extra help. The characters were confusing to me because they never seemed to stick to their own personality. I liked that the girls’ relationship often felt like one real sisters would have, but they all flip-flopped around so much that it became frustrating.
I really would recommend this as a book for younger readers because they will start to ask questions about and get an understanding of what a mental illness is and how it affects the individual, as well as the rest of their family.