Title: Rules for Stealing Stars
Author: Corey Ann Haydu
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: Hardcover; 336
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Source: Publisher / NetGalley
Content Screening: Parental Depression, Mild Violence
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who enjoy deep stories about families, and specifically about sisters.
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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.
Before you even ask, yes I did sob a bit during the reading of this book. It's nearly impossible to read a story like Rules for Stealing Stars and not have some deep feelings. This is a story about sisterhood. About family. About the fact that sometimes a family can seem like they're holding it together, but inside they're each falling apart. If you love magical realism and contemporary Middle Grade stories, you're going to fall in love with this book.
I have a soft spot for stories about children. While most people see the pain that parents exhibit when a family is broken, they forget that the children feel it even more clearly. Looking at an an ailing parent, at the depression and anger that they're dealing with on a daily basis, is hard enough. Looking at that same parent through the eyes of a child is even harder. Imagine remembering what your family once was, and wondering if it will ever be that way ever again. Not knowing whether to love that person, or to pretend they don't exist to stop the hurt. Is it any wonder that I got emotional? I think not.
Really, it was the sisters themselves that made this story for me. Eleanor, Astrid, Marla and Priscilla (Silly to her sisters), were such beautifully rendered characters. Each one dealing with this unstable part of their lives in such a different way. Eleanor choosing to run away from it. Astrid choosing to loose herself in her hobbies. Marla, trying so hard to change things and internalizing her fear. Finally, poor Silly and her inability to understand why her sisters didn't want to rally together. I watched as she did her best to figure out where she fit in this broken family, and I felt her hurt.
So what of the magical realism? Well, it's definitely there. Corey Ann Haydu does a rather excellent job of bringing a bit of magic into the world of these girls. At first, I wasn't sure how I felt about this addition. I won't spoil, but it felt a little unbelievable. This is coming from a reader who opens herself to pretty much anything. However, the more I read the more I realized how perfectly the concept that Haydu was weaving into the story fit. Sometimes you don't know what you need until it's right in front of you. That's exactly what Silly and her sisters soon came to discover.
Rules for Stealing Stars is sweet. It's sad. It's full of the kind of feelings that will make you want to curl up to stop the heartache. It's a gorgeous story, and one that I'm very glad that I read.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.