Sunday, August 16, 2009

Review *How to Steal a Car*

Pete Hautman is one of my top 5 favourite authors. I say that without telling you who the other four would be only because I want it left open-ended. I just want you to know that I've read a lot and that a top 5 placement means something. I like Pete Hautman books more than I like anything written by John Green, Libba Bray, Chris Lynch. Hautman is on par with Cecil Castellucci, in my heart. Again, that's saying a lot.

So I was ecstatic when I received a copy of his newest, How to Steal a Car, in the mail this week. Seeing as I didn't even know a newest was available! And it has a great little cover; little cop car figures chasing down a red convertible. All of my reading took a back seat to my time with this book. Which turned out to be no time at all as I read it in 24 hours.

I devoured it so quickly for two reasons. One, it's a good, gripping read. It doesn't let you put it down. Kelleigh, like the heroine of Sweetblood, is a delicious mystery as a person. In the opening scene she's witnessed a man drop his car keys at the mall, and she picks them up and keeps them. The rest of the novel is almost an explanation for her actions. But the story never comes right out and tells you what's going on in Kelleigh's head. It works its way around the story, circling closer and closer to the "real" story of who Kelleigh is. And Hautman is a master of narrative involution. It's what keeps me coming back.

And two, I don't actually think this book is more than 200 pages, so it was a quick read. But, when I finished, my first thought was "I wish this was 70 pages longer". I wanted more of the story. Nothing is missing and it has a satisfying ending, the characters are all fleshed out; this is a full story. But I wanted more. I wanted more, specifically about the situation leading up to the fate of Kelleigh's parents. I wanted more passages written about Kelleigh's homework reading, Moby Dick, and how it connected with her experiences. I wanted more of her own essay she's working on, How to Steal a Car.

Don't get me wrong. I was not dissatisfied with the story. It is an addictive read. It has all of the elements I truly loved in Sweetblood, Godless, Invisible. I just wanted that same story to last a little longer.

Although her role is largely off-screen my favourite character is Kelleigh's grandma, the hippie pregnant teen, one-time (that we know of) car thief. I love how Kelleigh digs up her past after her death and connects with her in a way she couldn't when she was alive. This piece fits in so perfectly in the book.

But I encourage you to check out Pete's blog and website. I hope he won't mind but I've scavenged this video of him reading from his book. It's really great! Top 5!


I also truly recommend:
Sweetblood by Pete Hautman

Actually, I've decided to make this review an impromptu giveaway. I want to give away a copy of Sweetblood and How to Steal a Car to a lucky winner. Please leave your name and e-mail to enter!


Tales of Whimsy said...

How cool! I have to check this out.

Mandy said...

Juju: It IS cool. May I consider your leaving a comment as an entry to win this book, along with Sweetblood also by Hautman?

Paradox said...

Is this contest international? I've read Godless and I'd love to read more of Hautman's books!

paradoxrevealed (at) aim (dot) com

Steph Bowe said...

I'm in Australia. Am I eligible?

If I am, here's my email:

If not... well, great review!

Mandy said...

Paradox & Steph: Sure, why not! You're in the draw.

Eleni said...

Mandy please enter me, this summary sounds very cool!


Lilixtreme said...

Hey Mandy, great blog! I actually have never heard of Sweetblood but How to Steal a Car sounds awesome! I'm in!

Jon Johnson said...

Add me to the list of potential future winners please!

AnAddictedBookReader said...

Awesome, thanks!

Mandy said...

Giveaway closed. Thanks to everyone for posting. Please stayed tuned for more giveaways!


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