How To Steal a Car by Pete Hautman

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Stars: ****

Scholastic Press (2009)
Teen Fiction (Young Adult)
176 pages

Summary: The first car was an accident. Kelleigh didn’t plan on stealing it, it just sort of happened. But the rush of the experience, the excitement of it all, it gets to Kelleigh. Her life seems to be a crazy mess, and stealing cars helps Kelleigh forget about how her lawyer father is defending a rapist, her parents don’t have the best relationship, her best friend is annoying her more than ever, and the guy she likes is lukewarm towards her. Stealing cars is a release. The only problem? She can’t stop.

I have to admit it’s the title that made me want to read this. I love how Kelleigh is writing an essay for school about stealing cars while she is doing so. She uses what she knows and what others tell her about stealing cars and we see a paragraph here and there sparsed inbetween the text. I think it’s a creative way to get it in there. Seeing the whole essay at the end would have been a poor choice and doing it this way made it much more interesting.

Although the book is about stealing cars, it’s not as shocking and wild as I’d thought it would be which isn’t necessarily a bad things. It means it’s still good for younger teen readers and is something new, not a teen book form of Speed or The Fast and the Furious. As Pete Hautman says on his website:

“Ever see that movie “Gone in 60 Seconds,” or play the video game “Grand Theft Auto?” It’s nothing at all like that.”

The book was an interesting, fun and quick read but I think it could have been a bit better. I don’t want to spoil anything but the ending wasn’t how I was expecting it and it felt like we were being left hanging a bit. It’s a good read if you want something a bit different.

Links of Interest: Pete Hautman, Pete Hautman Says (blog), Minnesota Public Radio (audio of author talking about book, reading from book etc.),

Other Reviews: Pop Culture Junkie, The Compulsive Reader, The Book Muncher,

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About Kathleen

I've been a nonfiction lover for as long as I can remember. I love children's nonfiction as well and love to share my knowledge and the books I gained them from, with the world. I wish more people would give nonfiction a chance.