Review: The Car Thief by Theodore Weesner
Publisher: Astor + Blue
Age recommendation: Teen, Young adult, Adult
Alex Housman is a 16-year old kid who has already stolen fourteen cars. He skips school on some days, unbeknownst to his father who spends his after-work hours drowning his problems with alcohol. After being caught by the police, Alex is sent to the home for delinquent boys. Eventually released from the home, Alex shapes up his act only to fall into the rut again. The Car Thief is about hopelessness and hope, life going on in an imperfect world.
This is a coming-of-age novel like none other. We read coming-of-age novels dealing with mischief and the ups-and-downs of adolescence. The Car Thief has nothing of that sort. With a tone filled with hopelessness and despair, we read about a teenage boy who becomes a juvenile delinquent after stealing 14 cars for “joyrides”. He comes from a broken family with an absentee mother and a father who comes back late a night or sometimes past midnight. If anything, The Car Thief sends us a resonating reminder that we live in a broken world.
The story is so well-written, I find myself feeling plenty of sympathy for Alex. He seems so lost and it is obvious that he doesn’t feel at peace with himself. He is searching and life is mundanely meaningless. In fact, the entire tone of the novel is mainly depressing. The Car Thief portrays life as it is, without whitewashing any details. After all, it is a fact many adolescents nowadays do not come from complete homes (especially with the staggering number of divorces). Life gets complicated and the response towards problems is the thing that matters.
The Car Thief‘s story is sad, honestly brutal, but I liked it. This story is different, one that isn’t easily forgotten. Reading it, it is easy to find the story disturbing, to get caught up in the dreary outlook. Looking through the lenses of Alex, the world seems grey. However, in the midst of the emptiness, we read about the characters who are kind, who care. These characters are the glimpses of hope and light that appear periodically despite the darkness.
The style of language used in telling the story makes the story even more impactful. The Car Thief is a book that will blow your mind and causes you to examine more deeply the meaning of life. For me, it is a book that caused me to think about the teenagers in delinquent homes and how the system can cause them to reexamine their life or spiral even further downward. A refreshingly different perspective is given – triumphs and defeats, heartaches and joys, this is life.
About the author
Theodore Weesner, born in Flint, Michigan, is aptly described as a “Writers’ Writer” by the larger literary community. His short works have been published in the New Yorker, Esquire, Saturday Evening Post, Atlantic Monthly and Best American Short Stories. His novels, including The True Detective, Winning the City and Harbor Light, have been published to great critical acclaim in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Harper’s, The Boston Globe, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, Boston Magazine and The Los Angeles Times to name a few. Weesner is currently writing his memoir, two new novels, and an adaptation of his widely praised novel—retitled Winning the City Redux—also to be published by Astor + Blue Editions. He lives and works in Portsmouth, NH.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this eBook free from the publisher through Blue Dot Literary. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”