'... you need a little help, sometimes, getting happy again.'

At the end of last year, I went on a major Middle Grade kick and ended up buying a ton from Book Outlet. It was one of those shopping binges where I later wondered why I didn't just request most of the books from the library. But hey, lack of self control is what led to the Picky Pledge in the first place so is anyone really surprised?  
The Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu ended up in my cart because I knew that Alexa from Alexa Loves Books and Estelle from Rather Be Reading were both fans of the author and of this book in particular! Although they didn't specifically tell me to read it, I still chose it for February's Picky Pledge Reading Challenge prompt - "A Book You Bought Based on a Recommendation." When I was checking out my shelves, it immediately caught my eye. I love the cover, and the summary seemed right for my mood.

At its heart, this is the story of four sisters. The youngest, Silly, is feeling more left out than usual. Her older sisters treat her like she's too young, but Silly knows something isn't right with their mother. And she sees her sisters sneaking away to their rooms together and returning with glittery cheeks and golden hair. When she finally learns the truth, it's more magical than she ever could have imagined. But what appears to be the family's saving grace just may turn out to be its undoing...

I don't know if I would have read this book if I hadn't seen my friends raving about it - and I would have missed out on something special! It blends family secrets, serious subject matter and powerful magic into a story that felt like a fairy tale. I wasn't expecting the book to tackle heavy themes like alcoholism and abuse, but I felt like it was handled very carefully. It seemed, to me, to walk a delicate line of sharing enough detail to potentially spark important conversations while remaining vague enough that it doesn't require further discussion.

There's a dreamlike quality to the book, especially when combined with Haydu's lyrical writing, that infused everything with light even in the darkness. There aren't answers to every question you may have about how the magic works, but I liked the ambiguity. I loved the focus on the complexity of family, on forgiving others and ourselves, and on hope and healing. It was a sad, heavy read that was so unique. 
"Sometimes people are haunted. And ghosts aren't white things in sheets. They're the scary bits of the past that follow us around."
My heart grieved for the sisters - and all the kids like them who grow up in homes with addiction and uncertainty and pain. The girls discover an escape, but they also learn that healing won't come from hiding. I loved that they ultimately found an anchor in one another, even though there was so many secrets and screw ups along the way. And honestly, I thought about the book long after I finished. It was an unforgettable introduction to Haydu, and I definitely plan on checking out more from her in the future.
Release Date: September 2015 | Publisher: HarperCollins; Katherine Tegen
Pages: 336 pages | Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover 

This was my first read for The Picky Pledge Reading Challenge that Alexa and I are doing in 2017! It's the perfect motivation to read books from my TBR and adds an extra dose of accountability, too. In addition to reading and reviewing one challenge book per month, we're answering three questions about each book we read!

1. How long has this book been on your TBR? 
Not very long! I purchased a copy in October 2016, but it was on my radar for about a year before that.

2. Who recommended this book to you?
I bought it based on the praise of Estelle and Alexa, though they didn't specifically suggest it to/for me.

3. Do you know (or have a guess) why they recommended the book for you?
I cheated a little by choosing this book for this challenge prompt because I didn't buy it based on a specific "you should read this!" recommendation. However, I did buy it because my friends loved it - so I think it still counts! If that had recommended it for me, I think they would have done so because 1) they love the author's writing, 2) it has a magical realism feel to it and 3) it's about a group of sisters. I love all three of those things!


  1. This wasn't on my radar but it sounds intriguing! I'm always impressed when authors can take difficult themes and make them age appropriate for readers while still telling a full story. Sounds like it was a good book to pick!

  2. I freaking LOVE this book! I honestly was so impressed and surprised by how much it sucked me in, and how I really got emotional while reading this tale. So happy you ended up reading it and enjoying it!


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