Read the entire review at Tales Between the Pages
The Car Thief by Theodore Weesner was first published in 1972 by Random House and has had a sporadic republishing history. It was republished in 1987 by Vintage and again in 2001 by Grove Press. It’s newest incarnation in eBook format by Astor + Blue will ensure this literary gem reaches the wide audience it deserves.
I’ve been reading early American literature for my PhD program and “fluff” for the first few weeks of summer so I wasn’t at all prepared for how literary this book was. That’s not to say that literary is a bad thing. It’s not. In fact, it’s quite refreshing to read a story so well-crafted and that gives such wonderful attention to language and detail. I’ll say that the first chapter came as a shock to my system. However, once the initial shock wore off, I was engrossed with the story. I was buckled in with Alex ready for him to take me on a joyride. What a ride it was.
Like any bildungsroman, The Car Thief is a coming of age story. However, unlike other notable bildungsromans like The Catcher in the Rye (which I hated) and The Perks of Being a Wallflower (which I loved), The Car Thief is poignant and beautiful and saddening all at the same time. There’s something to be said for simplicity, of simple words strung together in an honest way telling an honest story. There is something about The Catcher in the Rye and Perks of Being a Wallflower that seem a bit to contrived and even phony at points. Never once did I have that impression with The Car Thief. I think it reaffirmed my faith in the bildungsroman genre.
Overall, The Car Thief‘s poignancy and honesty make it a book for all to read. Though technically YA, The Car Thief is timeless and ageless, meant to reach a wide range of people. I think we all suffer from the pain and shame of life and can easily identify with Alex’s need to reconcile and move on.