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“Life after Theft” – Stealing and Redemption in YA Books

Image Credit: Flickr user B Garrett
Image Credit: Flickr user B Garrett

A few weeks ago, a friend and I finally got around to watching Bling Ring, Sofia Coppola’s 2013 film based on the true story of a group of privileged teens from Calabasas, California who robbed several Hollywood celebrities’ homes between 2008 and 2009. Drawing from Nancy Jo Sales’s 2010 Vanity Fair article, The Suspects Wore Louboutins, Coppola’s film is a cinematic schadenfreude delving into celebrity obsession, excessive materialism, and youthful recklessness. I’m definitely one of those people who watches based-on-a-true-story movies and, long after the credits roll, still wants to know more. I mulled over the audacious actions of these teens and wondered why they felt compelled to steal—something that Coppola’s film doesn’t really address. For more info, I sought out Sales’ article, as well as her 2013 book, The Bling Ring: How a Gang of Fame-Obsessed Teens Ripped Off Hollywood and Shocked the World.

Expanding on her article, Sales’ book exhaustively details how the “Bling Ring” stole over $3 million worth of clothing, jewelry, and accessories from Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, and other Hollywood celebrities, and bragged about their crimes over social media. Incredibly information-savvy, the teens used Google Maps to track down addresses, as well as celebrity news blogs to monitor the comings and goings of their targets. Peer pressure, attaining social cachet, and a desire for fame were a few motivating factors in the crimes. Like the movie, the book is unclear on whether the accused were truly remorseful – its seems more likely they were sorry for getting caught. In any case, readers who love an E! Hollywood True Story-type of tale will appreciate Sales’ exposé.

Given the social and cultural taboos around stealing, I was also curious about depictions of theft and redemption in YA fiction – here are some books that cover the issue in depth without necessarily glamorizing it: 

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Tweets of the Week

There is a lot of great stuff going on in the YA twitterverse this week. Here are some of the latest contests, book releases, and news. If there’s anything I’ve missed (and I know there is), add it in the comments!

Contests and Giveaways

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Switched at Birth: What Could Go Wrong?

mariesacha –
Parents can drive you nuts. You live with them for your entire life, and they don’t understand you at all. Sometimes they seem to be a completely different species. For Wendy Everly in Amanda Hocking’s book, Switched, that is exactly what she finds out. There was a plausible reason why Wendy’s mother tried to stab her to death at age six: her mom thought Wendy was a monster. It turns out that in the eyes of some humans, Wendy is a monster. She’s a trylle. That’s why she gets swept away by a dark, handsome fellow to her real life as a princess.

Okay, show of hands. How many of you, dear readers, have fantasized that you were switched at birth? That you have another whole identity, possibly with supernatural powers, which will be revealed on some magical date in the future? It’s an excellent fantasy for weekend nights spent babysitting your little brother while your parents go out on a date. It’s also an excellent idea to build a novel around. Imagine: Boy turns eleven and discovers that he is actually a powerful wizard, not the unwanted cousin forced to live under the stairs. It explains a lot of things.

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