The Unwritten Rule: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth ScottSarah 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.

Find it on Bookshop.

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.

Living Dead Girl: A (sort of) Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth ScottOnce upon a time Alice was a little girl who disappeared. Once upon a time her name was not Alice. Once upon a time Alice was just like you. But that was a long time ago. Before Alice knew how lucky she was before she became a living dead girl in Elizabeth Scott’s Living Dead Girl (2009).

Find it on Bookshop.

Five years ago Alice was taken by a man named Ray. Five years ago Alice was not Alice. She was ten years old and could still be the little girl Ray wanted in his home. In his bed. But now Alice is fifteen. She knows Ray is ready to release her, the same way he released the first Alice, and she longs for that moment when everything will end. But first Alice has to find her replacement, something Alice readily agrees to if it means Ray will finally let her go.

Despite how cold and calculating as Alice has had to become, the search is not easy. Could it be that Alice isn’t willing to be Alice anymore?

This is a haunting, grim, miserable little story. At 170 pages it is a fast read which is good because if readers stop too long to think about what is really happening to Alice it becomes too devastating to bear. That said, the actual writing of the story is much less traumatic than I would have expected.

Living Dead Girl has received a lot of accolades as a great book for teen readers (reluctant or otherwise). I don’t really get it myself and find it a hard one to pitch simply because it’s such a depressing book. Alice has been so irreparably broken by the time we meet that it is nearly impossible to harbor any hopes for her; her situation is hopeless.

Nonetheless, Scott’s writing is compelling and Living Dead Girl offers a uniquely accurate insight into what it really means to be a victim too afraid to speak out.

Possible Pairings: Sleepless by Cyn Balog, Pointe by Brandy Colbert, Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley, The Night She Disappeared by April Henry, Cut Me Free by J. R. Johansson, Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield, A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan, This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers