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.
Corey Ann Haydu left me completely, utterly, absolutely impressed with her Middle Grade debut and wanting to read more of the genre. Having read her other works in the YA category before, I knew she usually wrote realistic honest stories. What I didn’t expect was how raw Rules for Stealing Stars was compared to most MG books that I’ve read, which tend to be on the fun and happy side.
With the way it moved me, I couldn’t help but love this one! It’s a five star read for me and I’ve got five reasons to match every star.
Priscilla, or Silly as everyone calls her, is the youngest of four sisters. The eldest being the twins, Astrid and Eleanor, and the middle being Marla. Often disregarded as ‘too young and innocent’, she is left out by them. When they finally allow her into their world, they find a magical haven where they can escape their problems.
It may be because I have a sister myself but I just adore sister stories so much! I loved how each sister in the Rules for Stealing Stars all were distinctive not only with their personalities but they way they were trying to get by. The ties between them were so genuinely portrayed too, especially the complicated parts.
“‘I shouldn’t be lonely when I have three sisters,’ I say, like feelings and families are simple scientific facts. Cause and effect.”
With a mother whose moods almost always range from mean to angry especially after a drink and a father who likes to pretend that everything is a-ok and works too much, it’s obvious why Silly and sisters so badly wanted to escape the confines of their home.
Corey Ann Haydu doesn’t hold back painting the dark situation of a family in pieces. The sad introspective tone of her writing fit the story perfectly.
I honestly think it’s best to read for yourself the magic in this book but here’s what you should know: there are magical closets. Sounds awesome right? Not always. Sometimes magic is good, sometimes magic is bad.
I found the fantastical element of the book really unique and loved how it was incorporated in the plot. The fairytale-like story-telling will surely resonate to children and teens and adults alike.
“I stole a star. Borrowed a star. Because when you are sad, you need a little help, sometimes, getting happy again.”
Pancakes and closets and stars unfortunately cannot make the hard parts of life go away. It’s up to us to face them head on, to accept that things are bad but to hold on to the hope that things will be better.
But coping with everything and getting to that point where you’re trying to move forward- it’s not easy. Rules for Stealing Stars made me realize that and I only hope that it can open the eyes of kids to this reality.
I cried. For Silly. For her sisters. For the tough situations they’ve been dealt with. For the abundance of hope they found regardless.
Rules for Stealing Stars wowed me like no other MG book has. It was so beautiful and sad and magical. No doubt my favourite by Corey Ann Haydu so far!
Have you read anything by Corey Ann Haydu yet? What are some of your favourite middle grade books?