Book Review: Stealing Heaven

51zCwI4qQdL._SY445_QL70_Book Review # 17: Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott
Copy: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 320
Date Published: May 27, 2008
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: Image and video hosting by TinyPicImage and video hosting by TinyPicImage and video hosting by TinyPic

(Actual rating: 3.5)

My name is Danielle. I’m eighteen. I’ve been stealing things for as long as I can remember.

Dani has been trained as a thief by the best–her mother. Together, they move from town to town, targeting wealthy homes and making a living by stealing antique silver. They never stay in one place long enough to make real connections, real friends–a real life.

In the beach town of Heaven, though, everything changes. For the first time, Dani starts to feel at home. She’s making friends and has even met a guy. But these people can never know the real Dani–because of who she is. When it turns out that her new friend lives in the house they’ve targeted for their next job and the cute guy is a cop, Dani must question where her loyalties lie: with the life she’s always known–or the one she’s always wanted.

I apologize for being such a slowpoke recently. My attention span has been going berserk over the last couple of days. You see I’m scheduled to take exams (lots and lots of them). Oh joy.

Anyway, this is the first time I picked a book without caring about reviews, ratings, recommendations, and all that stuff so I had to give myself time to process things. Well now that that’s over and done with, let me tell you about Stealing Heaven.

Stealing Heaven can have two primary interpretations, one of which can be used to briefly explain the plot. The storyline is surprisingly intriguing for a book that embraces the young adult genre.

A bit of background: Dani is not your typical teenager. She did not go to school. She frequently moves from place to place with her mother as her only guardian. She does not have any friends or relatives, no interests or hobbies, and she certainly doesn’t have the most entertaining personality. But there is one thing Dani does best – stealing.

It’s not just her. Her entire family (her dad included, although mentioned only briefly) steals not for the sole purpose of sustenance but because it offers some sort of thrill. Dani lived each year moving from place to place, changing identities, inspecting houses, and stealing silver. She did not seem to enjoy it but it was the only life she knew.

Then Dani finds herself in “Heaven”, a place filled with elegant houses and rich folks who do not bat an eye to security. Heaven seemed like the perfect place to steal from. As Dani makes her preparations, she comes across a number of people. The last thing she expected was to see herself waver. How could a girl her age and a cute guy (a cop for that matter) have this tremendous effect on her? Only then did Dani start to question the possibility of a life much simpler and more genuine than the one she has.

So this is what I mean by interpretation: “Stealing” + “Heaven” – just those two words basically summarize the entire plot. The other interpretation can be found at the end of the book, which of course I will not be discussing.

What you should look forward to

    1. This novel is filled with realizations that slowly unfold with every event and interaction. It’s something that feels close to a coming-of-age story.

 

  • Conflicts are more internal but are impressively handled.

 

 

  • It’s a unique story and although one cannot fully empathize with Dani, her internal struggles (i.e. a battle of wills against her mother and her own) become highly relatable as the story progresses.

 

 

  • Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, the story offers heartwarming resolutions. I was actually impressed at how the author ended the book. Some may take it as open-ended or worse unresolved, but to me it was realistic and sensible.

 

 

  • This can actually be a pretty decent summer read given beach encounters and all.

 

 

  • A slow, down-to-earth, comforting romance: If there’s one thing that I liked very much about this book, it’s the romance. Unlike other novels, none of the encounters seemed forced. It’s the kind of romance that makes you snuggle under the covers while drinking hot cocoa with marshmallows.

 

”You’re smiling”
“So? I smile all the time. Not like some people”
“What are you saying?”
“What do you think I’m saying?”
“I think you’re a pain in the ass”
“There we go” he says “I knew I could do it”
“Do what?”
“Make you smile”
“I’m not smiling” I tell him. But I am I can feel it

I look at him. He looks… kind of nervous. I don’t get it. “You want me to go to an island with you?”
“Is this going to turn into a big extended question thing? I mean, if I say ‘Yeah, with me,’ will you say, ‘what do you mean by”with me”?”
“Why would it turn into a question thing?”
He grins at me. “I don’t know. Why would it?”
That grin again. I wish…
Wait a minute. “are you trying to ask me out?”
“At any point during any conversation we’ll have is there a chance that you won’t reply to everything I say with questions?”
“So you weren’t trying to ask me out?”
“I want you to know you’re doing wonders for my self-esteem here. Which means, before you ask another question, yes I  was. I mean, I am.”

Leftover thoughts

    1. I understand that we are reading about Dani but the spotlight on her character is too bright that it overshadows the other characters. While this was expected, the other characters were very much underdeveloped and served as mere names on paper.

 

  • Not so much happened that others might find the book a boring read if not for the eventual character development.

 

 

  • Greg is just too good to be true. Yes, I have no doubt about this one.

 

 

  • I wish there was more exploration and back story on Greg’s character.

 

Stealing Heaven is a book that is not often talked about. It may just be a random book on anybody’s shelf. It’s unique and simple but it’ll surely be a gem to those who decide to read it.

This book speaks to readers, particularly those who find themselves under severe pressure. Although not in the same context as the story, the book delivers the message of freedom and will – that we have the freedom to choose the life we want to live, to succeed and rise above labels and challenges, to choose who want to be with, and to be the person we want to be.

Ultimately, we can dream and succeed in life and live with all the happiness in the world. All we have to do is give ourselves a chance. The ideal life is not always around the corner but whatever sharp edge we find ourselves in, we will always, always have a choice.

Favorite Quotes from Stealing Heaven

Things… well, things suck sometimes. And sometimes you can fix it. And sometimes you can’t. It’s just the way it is.

My mother taught me to believe in silver, to believe in things, but I think it’s more important to believe in me.

I like the way he says my name, the name I’ve always wanted for the me I’ve never gotten to be.

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