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Paperback How to Steal a Car Book

ISBN: 0545112877

ISBN13: 9780545112871

How to Steal a Car

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Good*

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Book Overview

A thrill ride from Nationall Book Award winnter Pete Hautman. Are you bored out of your mind? Sick of your friends and family? Wish you were somewhere (anywhere) else? Some girls might start drinking or doing drugs. Some girls might act out by sleeping with guys. Some girls might starve themselves or cut themselves. Not Kelleigh Monahan. She just steals a car every now and then. It starts innocently enough. A guy drops his keys in the mall parking...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Another Hilarious Look at Teenagers

Kelleigh Monahan is not your typical car thief. In fact, she is anything but a car thief. She shrouds herself in a mix of black and gray, and she would rather hide than talk to someone she doesn't know. She has her best friend, Jen, in which everything is shared, including their co-boyfriend Will. Kelleigh also has the typical lawyer father and a mother who goes all out on cooking and cleaning --- and, occasionally, drinking. What's even more atypical of a car thief is that Kelleigh isn't even old enough to drive. She just received her learner's permit and is forced to drive around with an adult in the passenger seat. But that one day at the mall will change everything. As Kelleigh and Jen are sitting outside the shopping center eating ice cream, Kelleigh sees a man drop his keys and walk away without noticing. Kelleigh picks up the keys, thinking that she would return them, but something stops her. She never planned on taking his car, but by mere coincidence she finds out that he lives only a few blocks away. Surely he won't notice that his boring car, a Toyota or a Honda or something, is missing for a few minutes as she takes it around the block for a quick ride? While everything is returned as it was, Kelleigh walks away with a newfound addiction that she can't quite shake. And if you can steal a car once, Kelleigh figures, you can steal a car twice. The second time is less of a joy ride and more of a revenge-motivated debacle. A little more effort is needed to duplicate keys and trick the owner, but, in the end, Kelleigh succeeds in her plan. How and why it ends up at the bottom of the local pond you will have to read to find out. And if you can steal a car twice, you can certainly steal a car three times. When Jen calls in a panic, Kelleigh doesn't hesitate to borrow the neighbor's car (they were conveniently on vacation) and rescue her best friend. The whole police chase on the way home doesn't help matters, but Kelleigh manages to evade the cops and inform her parents about the declining nature of their neighborhood. And if you can steal a car three times, why not start stealing cars for money? It's all been leading up to this: her parents' failing marriage, her strained friendship with Jen, and the uncertain future between her and Will. Some girls might act out by drinking, sleeping around, or doing drugs, but Kelleigh gets her thrills from stealing cars. Is she going too far? And what will it take to stop her before she hits the point of no return? Most people think of car thieves as reckless, desperate, or down on their luck. Kelleigh, though, is an extremely relatable teenage girl with the same teenage problems that we all go through at some point, but she chooses to deal with them in her own unique way. The author's reasoning for why Kelleigh would steal cars not only makes sense, but he makes it seems so easy and practical that it may be a little dangerous for those already teetering on the edge. With HOW TO STEAL A CAR, Nationa

Courtesy of Teens Read Too

Kelleigh never meant to become a car thief. She just happened to see a guy drop his keys without noticing one day at the mall, and thought it'd be a thrill to grab them. With a best friend who's always telling her how boring she is, a defense attorney dad who cares more about getting a serial rapist off the hook than what's going on in his daughter's life, and a "boyfriend" who never makes a move on her, maybe it's not a surprise that Kell decides to take that thrill a little further. But once she's started, Kell finds that the rush of car-stealing is hard to give up. She starts out small, taking her dad's car for a spin in the middle of the night, sneaking into her neighbor's house with an emergency spare key to borrow their ride. But as her parents seem to grow even more distant - from her and from each other - and her friends stay oblivious to the changes taking place inside her, she pushes the risk further and further. And there's no way of knowing how this chase scene will end. Kell has a distinctive, engaging voice that will pull the reader into the story from the start. Though her behavior may seem bizarre, her reasons are clear enough to be believable and sympathetic. Her sense of humor will bring laughs even as readers cringe at the situations she gets herself into. Her growing disillusionment with her parents and friends is poignant and realistic. This is a relatively short read, and difficult to put down as you wonder how much trouble Kell will get herself into, and how she'll get out of it. The conclusion is open-ended, which may frustrate some readers, but it feels fitting to her story. A great contemporary read for anyone who loves quirky narrators! Reviewed by: Lynn Crow


How to Steal a Car spends a summer with Kelleigh, a smart, kinda pretty, vaguely-gothic teen in the Midwestern suburbs. She's a bit of an outsider, but has a few good friends. She's got a nice family, but they're a little messed up under the surface. All in all - a normal teen. Until, as the title suggests, she starts stealing cars. It starts as a moment of passion - Kelleigh picks up some dropped keys and later, for no good reason whatsoever, takes the car for the Disney equivalent of a joyride (to Taco Bell and back). One occasion escalates to another, and, before long, Kelleigh finds herself knee deep in car crime. The author does a very good job of making the entire series of events understated and, oddly, realistic. Kelleigh isn't suffering under some sort of grand delusion or cinematic adventure - she (as she points out) made one stupid, impulsive decision. Nor does it escalate unrealistically - our heroine doesn't wind up fighting off Ukrainian car-smugglers with a submachine gun. It all stays within the boundaries of belief. And, to the author's credit, some of the best parts of the book are when Kelleigh is doing completely normal things: avoiding her friends, talking to her grand-dad, writing a book report... Although Kelleigh's foolish behaviour is believable, her self-awareness requires more skepticism. Although the author sets her up as an unreliable narrator, Kelleigh has a tendency to review her own actions with shockingly mature eyes. She'll do something pretty dumb, but then ponder it from an extremely dry, adult standpoint. Although unbelievable, it does keep Kelleigh from becoming annoying - the author walks a dodgy tightrope between teen idiocy and adult sense, but we do get a great protagonist as a result. This is a bit of an unspoiler - but probably the best part of How to Steal a Car is the lack of dramatic conclusion. Hautman keeps it grounded - however implausible the series of events are in this book, they escalate (and resolve) realistically. How to Steal a Car is a very quick, very enjoyable book, packed with likeable characters with whom it is easy to identify. Intentionally low-key, but engaging nonetheless.

Great read -- don't be put off by the title/characters

I have to admit that when I started reading this book I was instantly turned off -- Great, I thought, another dull book about teenage angst growing up. Well, after a few pages into it, I realize that this book was something more. The story is about this girl, Kelleigh, who lives in Minnesota. Like most kids in high school, she goes to the mall, hangs out with her friends, and does typical school stuff, but she has this thing about "stealing" cars. She has a pretty interesting life, and I really enjoy how her life is introduced to the reader -- it's not just dumped onto you in endless pages of drivel where after a few minutes, you're just jumping ahead because you've lost interest. Her life is always presented as part of the plot, and you really start to develop a relationship with this young girl. The (male) author does a great job at getting into the mind of this young girl who, most probably, is not different from any other teenager (male or female) as she struggles with the death of her grandmother, her parent's rocky marriage, and dealing with her friends problems as well as her own. Hautman does a great job at creating an identity for his characters. Even the minor ones are more than just sketches. You feel some sense of connection with them, even if what you "see" and "hears" are simply the viewpoints of the main character. She has a brilliant sarcasm that makes you laugh, but Hautman also does something truly remarkable -- he shows the inner workings of this young woman's mind - how she connects events together and formulates opinions and how she discovers life through her own actions and those of her friends, family and fellow students. It's not often that an author can so cleverly create a world for his characters, that, while fleeting at times slightly superficial or fleeting, can also, at the same time reveal a level of depth -- almost like bouncing stones off the surface of a lake. You might just be scratching the surface, but you know that there's something deeper below. While the author doesn't always "take the plunge" he sets his work up in such a way that empowers the reader's own imagination. Excellent work! A MUST READ!

A great read for teenagers and adults

It's not often you come across a book meant for one market and find that it has a compelling enough story to actually keep you interested even if you aren't part of the core market the author is going for. "How to Steal Cars" is a tale of a teenage girl who finds her "spice of life" in stealing cars. It's a look into the mind of suburbia America and the sometimes funny, sometimes confusing relationships that exist between parents, teenagers, friends and family. This is the kind of book that teenagers will want to read because the author doesn't try and force a moral compass onto the reader. Instead, he takes us on a wild ride with a young teenage girl who is, by most counts, having the time of her life doing something that perhaps even a few of us have done in our life. During the ride we even get to see glances into her home life, her dating life and how seemingly simple interactions can lead to our whole life changing over time. I recommend this for any family with teenagers at home you are trying to encourage to read more; and I even recommend it for adults who want a quick, thrilling read that takes them on an adventure that might parallel their own teenage years!
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