Every once in a very great while I get picked to review an ARC for Harper Collins First Look. This one came to me from Harper Teen First Look for my review. It's also my first title for the Spring Reading Thing Challenge...sooo...one down! Of course the first thing I'm going to do is break the cardinal rule of ARCs and post a quote because...well...I can't resist.
The story of my life can be told in silver: in chocolate mills, serving spoons, and services for twelve. The story of my life has nothing to do with me. The story of my life is things. Things that aren't mine, that won't ever be mine. It's all I've ever known.
Danielle's first memory is of waiting outside a lavish house for her mother to return with stolen goods. As a child, she learns when to wait quietly for her mother and father to finish burglarizing the homes of the rich. As she grows up, instead of attending a normal school and having a regular life, Danielle is schooled in the art of thieving and soon makes her mother an accomplished accomplice. Her mother only believes in the value of what she can hold in her hands, but at the age of eighteen Danielle doesn't share the thrill her mother gets from stealing, instead longing for the normal life and normal relationships she has been missing out on for her entire life. Little does Danielle know as they enter the small beach town of Heaven with their eyes set on its lavish estates, that her life is about to change in more ways than she could have imagined.
First, there's the guy that seems to pop up everywhere she goes - a cop named Greg. Despite her fear of what he is, Danielle can't seem to stop talking to him and soon even tells him her real name, a massive faux pas for a traveling thief. Then there's Allison, a rich but friendly inhabitant of one of the very houses Danielle's mother is looking to rob. As Danielle probes her for valuable information she finds that Allison doesn't seem like the type of person she'd like to rob but the type of person maybe she'd like to have as a friend, that is, if she was allowed to make friends. All of this and her constant reservations about her mother's choice of "career" make Danielle begin to reconsider the path her life is taking and consider that maybe she isn't so powerless to change her situation as she had always thought.
Stealing Heaven is an engaging read about a girl who wants nothing more than what most teenage girls have - a school, a friend, a boyfriend, stuff that belongs to her instead of to someone else. Scott captures Dani's longings for all these things and her mother's total lack of understanding of why anyone would ever want the things that Dani wants. The conflict between Dani's love and loyalty to her mother and her desire for a different kind of life is realistically drawn. The lush beach town of Heaven comes to life and it's hard not to love its friendly citizens and understand why Dani would desperately want to trade in her unusual way of life for a place among Heaven's population. Stealing Heaven strikes a good balance between the more fluffy parts of the book and more serious issues such as Dani's questions about the morality of stealing from the very rich, the difference between love and sex, and even the prospect of losing a loved one to cancer. This is a quick read about growing up and learning that it's never too late and you're never too powerless to make the decisions that can change the circumstances of your life.
Book available May 27, 2008.