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Reviewed by Frank Stephen for Readers' Favorite
The Car Thief is a tale about a twelve-year-old orphan, Kelly Morgan, and his ordeals at the hand of child services and the juvenile justice system. The best he was offered after his father's death was a cold and abusive grandfather, a child home that subjected him to the point system, a juvenile detention facility, and a correction facility for adults. After a couple of failed promises and childish mistakes, he is left at the mercy of an ill-prepared justice infrastructure, a gutsy public defendant, and a veteran correctional officer. All Kelly wants is to get back to his home in Wyoming, but he may have to settle for a minimum-security forestry camp.
Author Vicki Reed addresses the flaws in the juvenile justice system and child services from the witty and innocent perspective of a child — one for who the system was not designed. As his lawyer puts it, "The law set a trap for a tiger. It caught a kitten." His story offers a mix of delight and sadness, inspiring and empathetic. Vicki Reed draws from her wealth of experience working in the juvenile justice system to deliver a fast-paced and straightforward plot, perfectly scripted with powerful diction that is easy to read and a thrilling delight. From the first scene, I was hooked and intrigued. Kelly's wit and innocence are very endearing and entertaining. Kelly is a compelling character, and his story will definitely resonate with anyone who has suffered unfairly at the hands of a failed system.