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.
Children usually rely to their parents for everything. They look up to them, believe and depend on them. So what if parents aren’t there to depend on? What is it like to have a absentee father or mother? What if your parents are not good enough to take care of you or your sisters?
Rules for Stealing the Stars shows us those things with just a little dose of magic on it. Silly our protagonist and narrator is the youngest of the four all girls siblings. Her mother is alcoholic and her father doesn’t seem to care much about it. So without so much parental guidance or attention in their house these girls find their escape through magic closets. Magic that may or may not harmful to them.
Silly as the narrator carry this charming and realistic voice. As an eleven years old kid she is curious and smart. She never let her older sister dismissed her just because she is the youngest one. She do things not because that’s what her older sisters told her or approved but because she wants to.
The other girls shows their own individual characters too. Even we are only getting Silly’s point of view in the narrative, her sisters show their own personalities. They are all interesting and unique.
Sometimes I wonder if all the magics and fantasy in the story are just part of the girls’ imaginations, things made up by their minds to block the reality outside. Like a coping mechanism they made to escape the harshness of the real world. I think I would love this novel more if Corey Ann choose that path because it will make the story more real. But nevertheless I still love this book and enjoyed the fantasy inside it.
Overall, Rules for Stealing Stars is a beautiful well written middle grade novel that perfectly combine magic-realism and contemporary. Corey Ann Haydu successfully captured the family dynamics, sibling rivalry and love between Silly and her family.
*This review is based on an advance readers copy I received courtesy of the publisher, HarperCollins International in exchange of honest opinion.