Monday, May 19, 2008

The five people you meet in Stealing Heaven

Elizabeth Scott's first book, Bloom, was nominated to PPYA last year, and after I read it I just HAD to snag the one galley of her second novel, Perfect You, that was available at one of the Simon & Schuster previews I attended. Elizabeth was very kind and sent me a copy of her third novel, Stealing Heaven, for review.

The plot: Danielle, seventeen, has never attended high school, had a room or even a home she could really call her own, or made a true friend. In fact, she doesn't even introduce herself as Danielle to the people she meets. In every town she has a different identity. She's not in witness protection; she's a thief. Her parents, professional thieves, have raised her to know everything there is to know about security systems and hiding her real identity. With her dad now out of the picture, Danielle and her mom have taken to stealing silver from the homes of rich people. Why silver? It's valuable enough to make them some serious cash when sold, but it's not the first thing people look for when (or if) they figure out they've been robbed. Danielle and her mother move to Heaven, a shore town which I thought was on the East Coast until I read a line about the sun setting over the ocean, which it only does on the West Coast. Either way, there's a beach and it's a small town. There's also a very rich family with a very nice daughter who wants to be friends with Danielle. There's also a friendly cop with a crush on Danielle. Danielle figures that Heaven should be just like all the other towns she and her mom have lived in, until two things happen. First, Danielle finds herself forming relationships with the people of Heaven, something she's never done before. Second, her mother develops a terrible cough that won't seem to go away.

Why you'll love it: More than anything, the detailed writing makes this farfetched plot work really well. She does it all by creating interesting characters who always have something going on beneath the surface. Danielle is conflicted about her life of crime; she knows it's not right but it's the only life she's ever known. Her mother is nontraditional, to say in the least, and with her father in prison she hasn't got much of any kind of adult role model in her life. Danielle likes to think that she has built a barrier between herself and other people, but that barrier is broken by understanding and truly good people. Near the end of the book, Danielle has to stand up for herself, a feat not so easily accomplished when you've led the life she has. There's romance, intrigue and humor that grow from a cast of quirky characters. Danielle's personal fight against change and her developing her first meaningful relationships are a joy to watch.

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