Sarah has had a crush on Ryan for years. He’s smart, funny, and he understands her. He’s also really cute.
Sometimes it even seems like he might like her back, although Sarah can’t imagine why since she isn’t pretty or all that interesting–just ask her best friend Brianna.
Brianna is everything Sarah isn’t: beautiful, tall, and confident. She’s the perfect girl with the perfect life–if you don’t know about her parents (Sarah is the winner there).
Really, it makes sense for Ryan to date Brianna instead. They look good together, they like each other. It makes sense.
But then why does it feel like Sarah and Ryan are the ones with a special connection? Why does she still want him so badly?
Why does it seem like he wants her too?
Sarah liked him first, but it doesn’t matter. She still likes him. That doesn’t matter either.
At least, it’s not supposed to.
The only problem is, it does in The Unwritten Rule (2010) by Elizabeth Scott.
At 210 pages (hardcover) The Unwritten Rule is short and sweet and surprisingly original for a book that veers into familiar territory especially with a lot of the recent epic romances in young adult books. (I’m looking at you, Jacob. You too, Edward. Heck, Bella, I’ve got my on you too.)
I was excited for this book after reading Living Dead Girl which was kind of traumatic and just . . . bizarre. I kept hearing excellent things about Scott but I didn’t see any of it in that book because she lost me at child abduction. But I also heard that book was a bit of an anomaly so I was eager to give her another chance. That said, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book since my fellow blogger Nicole at Dog Ear was unimpressed by the book.
Weirdly, this is the second book I’ve recently discovered I kind of love only after finishing it and writing up the review.
A lot of the plot points here have been done before, but what really got me was the emotion Scott captures on every page. This book is potent. I was right there with Sarah. Her wanting Ryan, her eagerness to please Brianna, even her concern about her parents; it was all palpable to me as a reader. Sarah is torn up by her conflicting emotions and the fact that what’s best for her might not ultimately include Brianna.
The other great thing about The Unwritten Rule (despite what the cover might suggest) isn’t really a romance. Yes, there is romance. Yes, there is heartache. But really this is the story of a friendship and sometimes those stories are hard to find. While Sarah’s feelings for Ryan are a catalyst The Unwritten Rule is so much more than a love triangle or a romance. It’s a little snapshot into a normal girl’s life. It’s a character study. It’s an examination of a friendship.
I can’t even explain it that well, but Scott captures so much here that The Unwritten Rule is really a must read not so much for the story but for every thing else because so many elements come together here in such interesting ways.
Possible Pairings: Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti, How to Love by Katie Cotugno, A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu, Undercover by Beth Kephart, The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart, Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson, After the Kiss by Terra McVoy, Stealing Henry by Carolyn MacCullough, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan, Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker
Exclusive Bonus Content: Sarah was also a really interesting heroine. She sees herself as plain, the second fiddle to Brianna’s flashy electric guitar, a girl on the margins. But throughout the story we see her own interests (one word: sneakers), her delightfully routine yet quirky homelife (I also loved Sarah’s parents. Where was this book when I was writing on my Good Parents kick? Here’s a book that shows the best and worst of parental units in YA Lit all in one tiny package.) and her humor and loyalty. We also, tragically, watch Brianna constantly tear her down. I could go on but it becomes pretty obvious that Brianna sees Sarah more as a prop in the facade of her perfect life than as a true friend.
To anyone who read the book: Was anyone else torn up by the homecoming dance scene? I was crushed right along with Sarah.
2 thoughts on “The Unwritten Rule: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review”
I have to admit LizB at A Chair, a Fireplace and a Tea Cozy improved my opinion of the book with her review and comments, but I still can’t say I like the book. There’s something about Sarah’s insecurity that irks me. But it is very High School and in many ways, accurate. Personally, I just don’t have the patience for repetitive narration. Kathy Appelt’s writing is a rare exception for me.
I can understand that. I was just talking with a friend about books that though they may not appeal to me I can tell they would appeal to “teen” me or more generally to teen readers. Although I wound up enjoying this book, I think it’s one that fits into that category well.