I know that one of the first things I'll be asked when people start reading Stealing Away is something along the lines of: "Aren't you just glorifying identity theft in this book?" or "Why are you encouraging and showcasing illegal behavior?"
To these questions my answer will always be this: "Read the book and then let's talk."
As a disclaimer, let me declare front and center that I don't condone identity theft in any form, at least not any more than I condone vampires killing innocents, girls burning down houses with people in them, witches putting spells on others, and so on, and so on. I hope you are getting my subtle point here. YA literature—nay literature in general—is full of flawed characters who do bad things. Often, these characters also do good. And grow. And come to terms with their actions. And seek redemption. And become better people as a result. Sound familiar? It's called life. And art, as they say, imitates life.
Stealing Away is about more than identity theft, and the main character, Jaynie Haart, is more than just a thief. Just like you are more than just the sum total of your flaws and mistakes.
And for those who charge that Stealing Away is a "how to manual" for identity theft, let me say this: Give teens a little bit of credit! Young adults don't need to read a novel to learn how to "do" identity theft. The topic is all over the news. And all aspects of identity theft that I explore in this story I learned from articles, books, YouTube videos and news stories about how to prevent identity theft.
And now that we have that out of the way, I'd like to tell you what Stealing Away is really about. Take one wounded girl. Drop her in an abusive environment. Give her a smattering of determination and a whole lot of resilience. Make her smart. Really smart. Give her the tools to achieve what we are all looking for in our lives—love, security, a sense of belonging, and the peace of mind that comes only when we try to right the wrong we have done. Stealing Away accompanies one girl as she pursues the happiness that has long eluded her, and examines the lengths to which she will go to find it, the turns she takes at the crossroads life throws at her, and the people she collects along the way.
And that, dear reader, is what Stealing Away is all about.
After you've read the book, I hope you'll let me know whether you agree. Or not!