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Living on Impulse

Living on Impulse

3.1 6
by Cara Haycak

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Mia Morrow is impulsive, plain and simple. While her friends are concerned with grades and colleges, Mia would rather focus on the things that make her happy - like chasing boys or snatching something off a department store shelf. No big deal, right? But then Mia gets caught shoplifting, and her thoughtless behavior doesn't just push her friends away, it gets her


Mia Morrow is impulsive, plain and simple. While her friends are concerned with grades and colleges, Mia would rather focus on the things that make her happy - like chasing boys or snatching something off a department store shelf. No big deal, right? But then Mia gets caught shoplifting, and her thoughtless behavior doesn't just push her friends away, it gets her into a lot of trouble, too. In this eye-opening tale of friendships, family, and negative impulses, Cara Haycak subtly shows that the power to heal is within all of us, and it almost always starts with forgiveness.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 15-year-old Mia Morrow, Haycak creates a realistic portrait of a teenage girl whose life is spiraling out of control. First, Mia is caught shoplifting and, as punishment, must pay the store $300. Her penchant for partying and aversion to studying drive a wedge between her and her two best friends. Additionally, her alcoholic mother has relapsed, and her grandfather, the one person who seems to have faith in her, is dying. At first, readers won't necessarily sympathize with impulsive “bad girl” Mia, but her story is compelling enough to keep reading, if only to discover how low Mia will sink. With painstaking yet gratifying care, Haycak (Red Palms) eventually starts Mia along the path of self-realization and forgiveness. Mia finds common ground with her mother, discovering they are both “reaching for something outside themselves to cure what was wrong on the inside,” and forgives her friends as well as herself. Readers who stick with Mia until the end will be glad they did. Ages 12–up. (Aug.)
. . . [A] stirring, smart, and affirming read.
VOYA - Ruth Cox Clark
Fifteen-year-old Mia is not a likeable character at first as she shoplifts and exhibits other irresponsible behaviors. Finally caught, Mia must figure out how to pay for sandals she did not even get to keep. The bright spot in Mia's life is Grandpa Andy. Mia can do no wrong in his eyes even though he treats her mother like dirt. A narrow escape at a club and her job in a fly research lab have Mia examining her actions. She could have been raped, but instead the quiet club owner drove her home. Although disgusted by the flies, Mia discovers she can exhibit self-control as she carefully handles their boxes. The wild Mia does not "go down easy" as the responsible Mia emerges, but Grandpa Andy's death is the catalyst for her to realize that there is satisfaction in taking responsibility for her behavior. When she finds her mother's stash of empty liquor bottles, Mia focuses her grief, using her artistic talent to create visual memories as she decoupages the bottles with photographs, including one of her mother as a teen sitting on the very car in which Clancy, the club owner, had brought Mia home. Haycak holds no punches as she lays bare Mia's faults and equally deftly leads Mia on a self-reflective journey so she is able to step up as the responsible one when her mother cannot. Reviewer: Ruth Cox Clark
Children's Literature - Naomi Butler
This teen girl's story will keep the reader's interest very high—maybe to the point of reading it all the way through in a minimal amount of sittings. Mia gets caught shoplifting and has to face the consequences for the first time in her life. The author describes the story as teenagers living on the edge, defying limits, and finding ways to mark it "all their own." She practically loses her friends but later in the book heals all the wounds. She takes a job in a college lab for breeding flies and does quite well under a graduate tutor. There are many obstacles in her way and at her lowest she starts to forgive and to heal. Reviewer: Naomi Butler
School Library Journal
Gr 9–11—Tenth-grader Mia Morrow chases thrills. She shoplifts, enjoying the rush, the anticipation, and the eventual steal. But things go wrong in her favorite department store. The new security system catches her on camera taking a pricey sandal. Instead of rescuing Mia, her mother makes her find a job to pay back the store. Work helps to stabilize Mia, even when things in her life start to go awful, and she decides that a change is in order. She will turn herself around instead of being a loser. While Impulse has a great message—be true to yourself and your potential, and never give up—there is very little that is redeeming about Mia for most of the book. While she does stop her thievery, she is still impulsive and a serial liar until nearly page 200. The only consistently nice thing about Mia is her relationship with her grandfather.—Melyssa Malinowski, Kenwood High School, Baltimore, MD
Kirkus Reviews
With her life spinning out of control, an unfocused teen searches for the person she wants to be and eventually finds her. Fifteen-year-old Mia lives in a college town in rural New York with her disgruntled single-parent mother and her ailing grandfather, who has high hopes for his granddaughter. But Mia eschews school, refusing to believe college is the only thing she can do with her life. Living on impulse, Mia's arrested for shoplifting, insults her teacher, offends her friends and is forced to take a disgusting part-time job breeding flies in the entomology lab. But as her friends disown her, her grandfather fails and her mother resorts to alcohol, Mia learns an important lesson from the fly life-cycle and starts building her own cocoon to survive. Developed with realism, humor and insight in a colloquial third-person voice, Mia's flawed character proves credible. Her transformation story brims with loss and forgiveness as she painfully discovers "change can happen really fast for people" when they start making good choices instead of bad. (Fiction. 12-16)

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.94(w) x 8.58(h) x 1.03(d)
630L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Cara Haycak lives in Los Angeles, California. Kirkus called her first novel, Red Palms, "unique and beautifully written."

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Living on Impulse 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Miranda Stearns More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing i couldnt put it down and neither will you
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
QMS More than 1 year ago
Living on Impluse depicts the life of Mia Morrow and her shop-lifting issue. After she steals a pair of sandels at a department store, she has to get a job to pay for them. While she works off her debt, she learns more about her mom and the would-be dad she never had. Living on Impulse is a great read for anyone who enjoys realistic fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Living on Impulse is about a girl named Mia who is a shoplifter. She does it because the likes the feel of it. But when she gets caught her life changes dramatically. This book is very edgy and real. It is about finding who you are and finding where you want to be. The only thing I didn't like was that it was in 3rd person because I like when the lead character tells the story but that's not a big deal! Awesome book!!