Pete Hautman Explores Distructive Behavior In How To Steal A Car

Some teenage girls cut themselves, some have eating disorders, and some shoplift to get a rush.  Kelleigh steals cars.  Her home life is not so hot.  Her dad is a high powered attorney defending a known rapist and it is likely he is having an affair.  She often has to act as designated driver to her mom’s liquid book clubs.  Pete Hautman is great at exploring different topics and how they relate to teens.  How To Steal A Car looks at the distructive behavior of one teenage girl who is desperately seeking some kind of control over her own life.  He describes the rush Kelleigh feels in the quiet moments before she starts the car she is about to steal.  She and her friend Jen have a relationship with a boy they call their joint boyfriend, Will.  Their three-way friendship is an interesting one.  Besides the car stealing, Kelleigh finds she is strangely attracted to a more daring thief.  The book’s ending leaves you wondering and is a great conversation tool to engage teens.  What will happen next?

Some Ideas For Discussing With Teens: 

Talk about the rush she gets from stealing cars.  What would drive someone to do this or any other kind of destructive behavior?

She does it once.  What makes her keep doing it and taking bigger risks?

Kelleigh is disgusted with her father for defending a rapist.  Talk about how teens can be disappointed in their parents. 

Talk about Kelleigh and Jen’s relationship with Will.  How do these kinds of plutonic relationships work?

What attracts Kelleigh to the car thief?  Why does she keep going back for more?

Do you think she will keep stealing cars?

More Zombie Attacks In Forest Of Hands And Teeth Companion Book

Carrie Ryan’s Dead-Tossed Waves picks up years after Mary escaped The Forest Of Hands And Teeth.  Mary is now older and has a daughter, Gabriella.  The Unconsecrated, or Mudo, as they are called in this ocean side community are still very present.  Mary’s job is to decapitate the ones that wash ashore.  Gabriella has a crush on Catcher.  So when he and their friends dare each other to climb the barrier and explore the old amusement park, she reluctently agrees.  Once inside the zombies attack, leaving Catcher infected and the group in huge trouble.  Gabriella breaches the barriers a few more times to try and help him before he turns.  But Catcher isn’t like the rest and his secret could mean even bigger trouble for himself and the ones who love him.  Elias, who is part of a cult that worships the Unconsecrated, helps her, creating a love triangle.  Who will Gabriella choose?  At the same time her mother, Mary decides to go back into The Forest Of Hands and Teeth to search for those she left behind in the first book.  All the events force Gabriella into the forest following the same fences, searching for answers about her past and her future. 

There are more zombie attack scenes in this one and less whiney pining.   One of the more frightening scenes involved a school bus full of child zombies when she and Catcher follow the gates into an abadonned city.  I was frustrated with Mary for wanting to go back to the forest.  That annoyed me quit a bit.  I found the plot line about the cult and what they do to the Mudo fascinating.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Gabriella says “I like to think there is a girl like me who stands in the night and wonders what else exists in the in the world but who is terrified to find out.”  Can you relate to that?

The fear of the Mudo keep people out of the forest.  Is there something that you are afraid of that keeps you from venturing beyond your comfort zone?

How are Gabriella and Mary different?  How are they the same?

Gabriella is in love with Catcher.  Talk about how he changed.  Is it worth the risk to be with someone you love?

Talk about how her relationship is different with Elias.

Was Mary right to keep the secret of Gabriella’s origins?

Would you have gone back into the Forest Of Hands And Teeth?

Talk about the cult that worships the Mudo.  They believe that they will have immortality.

Twilight Fans Will Love This Werewolf Romance


Ever since she can remember, Grace is obsessed with the wolves that live in the woods behind her house, especially the one with the golden eyes.  As a small child she was pulled off her tire swing, dragged into the woods and attacked.  One of the wolves stopped the attack and brought her back to her yard. What Grace didn’t know is that the wolf carried her back to her yard on two legs.  A boy from her school is attacked by wolves and is presumably killed.  A hunting party goes after the wolves.  A trembling disoriented boy who has been shot shows up on her back deck.  She recognizes the eyes immediately and gets him help.

 Shiver is a supernatural romance fans of the genre will love.  Sam is an interesting character.  He is portrayed as a nice person without Edward’s more explosive possessiveness.  

 Some ideas for discussing with teens:

 Take turns reading out loud poems by Rainer Maria Rilke.  Discuss.

 Talk about how werewolves differ between this series and Twilight.

 What makes Sam different from Edward?  What makes them similar?

 Grace’s parents seem almost indifferent to her.  How does that make you feel? 

 The book ends with a bit of a cliffhanger.  What do you think will happen next?