Before you even ask, yes I did sob a bit during the reading of this book. It's nearly impossible to read a story like Rules for Stealing Stars and not have some deep feelings. This is a story about sisterhood. About family. About the fact that sometimes a family can seem like they're holding it together, but inside they're each falling apart. If you love magical realism and contemporary Middle Grade stories, you're going to fall in love with this book.
I have a soft spot for stories about children. While most people see the pain that parents exhibit when a family is broken, they forget that the children feel it even more clearly. Looking at an an ailing parent, at the depression and anger that they're dealing with on a daily basis, is hard enough. Looking at that same parent through the eyes of a child is even harder. Imagine remembering what your family once was, and wondering if it will ever be that way ever again. Not knowing whether to love that person, or to pretend they don't exist to stop the hurt. Is it any wonder that I got emotional? I think not.
Really, it was the sisters themselves that made this story for me. Eleanor, Astrid, Marla and Priscilla (Silly to her sisters), were such beautifully rendered characters. Each one dealing with this unstable part of their lives in such a different way. Eleanor choosing to run away from it. Astrid choosing to loose herself in her hobbies. Marla, trying so hard to change things and internalizing her fear. Finally, poor Silly and her inability to understand why her sisters didn't want to rally together. I watched as she did her best to figure out where she fit in this broken family, and I felt her hurt.
So what of the magical realism? Well, it's definitely there. Corey Ann Haydu does a rather excellent job of bringing a bit of magic into the world of these girls. At first, I wasn't sure how I felt about this addition. I won't spoil, but it felt a little unbelievable. This is coming from a reader who opens herself to pretty much anything. However, the more I read the more I realized how perfectly the concept that Haydu was weaving into the story fit. Sometimes you don't know what you need until it's right in front of you. That's exactly what Silly and her sisters soon came to discover.
Rules for Stealing Stars is sweet. It's sad. It's full of the kind of feelings that will make you want to curl up to stop the heartache. It's a gorgeous story, and one that I'm very glad that I read.