Sunday, June 20, 2010

living on impulse by cara haycak

This was one book whose cover appealed to me instantly (maybe it was the rhinestone encrusted shoe on the front). The other attraction was the theme of a troubled teen who resorts to shoplifting to be the likable person she dreams of.
Mia Morrow is an impulsive person. She sees an item in a store and she takes it - on impulse. She's done it before. It's easy and thrilling. And in fact, that is exactly what Mia does in early April in the department store on the Commons. But this time things go down differently. When she is caught shoplifting, the head of store security and her mother agree that Mia must pay the cost of the shoes - a whopping $300. But getting caught shoplifting is just the tip of Mia's troubles. She has to resist the urge to join a local gang. She doesn't know her father and this causes her considerable distress. Mia spends time wondering if this person or another might be him. She loses her two friends at school, fails an exam and must deal with trouble at home between her beloved Grandpa Andy and her single mom, Constance.Mia wants to do better but she just doesn't know how.
When Mia discovers a job opening at the nearby college she sees this as her ticket to paying off her debt to the department store and perhaps to a new direction in her life. Will she continue acting on impulse or start thinking about what she might do?
Although Mia initially lies in the job interview she does come clean about herself and lands the job. Gradually we see Mia reform herself and develop into a more likable, responsible person. Instead, it is now her mother who crashes and burns, returning to drinking and losing her job. When her mother disappears for several days Mia must turn to someone unexpected for help. This person, a past boyfriend of her mother comes through for her and her mother and helps them both deal with the past.
Overall, the story was mostly believable but I felt that Haycak simply tried to do too much in this novel. I think simply focusing on Mia's problems would have been enough. Adding the mother's troubles to the story simply seemed to take it over the top for me. 

This would have also allowed the author to explore some of Mia's issues more in depth, especially those relating to her absent father.
When Mia calls the police to report her mother missing she is told to drop a picture off at the local police station. I would expect that a 15 year old minor who reports a parent missing and is living alone would very likely receive a visit from police and most definitely end up in foster care. I really don't see why this situation was even needed in the novel. It seemed like it was thrown in for dramatic purposes but was simply too unrealistic.

We see Mia develop as a character through the novel. By the end of the novel Mia is much more likable character. Although she still does things that are wrong, she is beginning to think her way through and see how her actions affect others. She also begins to set goals for herself.

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