The Unwritten Rule

Boy was I grumpy last night and this book is to blame….. I will explain but let me give you the set up first.

You know what the unwritten rule between girls is right?  You do not, I mean do not, steal your best friend’s boyfriend (yes connections to recent read – 6 Rules of Maybe).  You don’t crush on him, and you most certainly do not KISS him when he is still with your best friend, and maybe not even after.  Now we can debate this rule – and I suppose it has been, but it is the unwritten rule, at least of this title.

Sarah has a crush on Ryan, she has since the 8th grade, but no one really knows that, not even her best friend, Brianna.  Which might be why when Ryan turns up totally hot at the end of the summer Brianna turns her full wattage on him and now they are dating.  And since a) Sarah never said anything its not like Brianna broke that unwritten rule and b) since Sarah assumes no boy would like her over Brianna she just accepts this fact.  But it isn’t that easy, because there is something there – between Sarah and Ryan, and Ryan and Brianna may not be working out.

So grumpitude….. here is the thing about the story.  Brianna is both casually mean and totally fragile.  She has pretty much destroyed Sarah’s self esteem over the years, although Sarah’s personality allowed that to happen.  And it wasn’t on purpose.  The situation with Brianna’s parents (bitter divorce, working all the time, and casually and not so casually mean themselves) has left her self esteem pretty f’ed up too.  Sarah has the loving family that Brianna has slowly become a part of, but Brianna has all the attention.  The constant “brush your hair” or “we can find you a freshman to date” are what I mean by ‘casually mean’.  So you hate Brianna just a bit, but you also feel sorry for her.  And while the inevitablity of the ending is obvious to the reader, it is going to hit Brianna like a freight train, and because ultimately she is fragile you feel a little sorry for her.

I had this friend.  She could make you feel like the coolest, most important person in the world one minute, and like nothing the next.  She had unwritten rules she wasn’t afraid to break, but Lord, you didn’t want to be the one to break them.  And the thing is for a vast lot of people I don’t have an identity separate from that relationship, and frankly we haven’t talked in 20 years but I am still guilty/angry/sad/insecure about all of that.  So reading this book just dredged a whole lot of crap up – hence, grumpitude.

I am not sure what this book is – romance? well sort of.  friendship? yes that too.  Finding yourself? yep.  Families in all their glory and horror?  Oh yeah.  I’ve been reading mean girls lately (here for example) so it was interesting to read a mean girl who wasn’t intentional, at least at first.

I really like Elizabeth Scott, and in some way this reminded me of The Boyfriend List in similar theme.  The casual meanness, the girl relationship, etc. but boy was I grumpy.

Others thoughts:

The Bookologist liked it.

So did Insanity of Writerhood

An interview:

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The 6 Rules of Maybe

1. Respect the power of hope and possibilities. Begin with belief.  Hold on to it.

Perhaps it should say don’t fall in love with your sister’s husband, because that is what Scarlet does, and when that happens all the anger, and hurt, and confusion of her life comes pouring out in some not so attractive, but entirely understandable ways.   The thing is I get that Scarlet is angry at her sister for a while lot of reasons but I am not so sure she treats her all that well for someone who is supposedly a caretaker, and this may be the part that Caletti didn’t quite capture me with in this novel.  That said I love Deb Caletti’s novels (The Nature of Jade is my favorite).  She writes literary romance quite well.

If I were to dissect Scarlet – I’d point out that falling in love with Hayden is the easy way out, no risk taken.  Like her sister who won’t fall in love – no risk.  I get that falling in love with your sister’s husband is not ‘safe’ but it is because Scarlet can’t act on it, not really, and it keeps her from truly engaging with the world around her – recognizing the obvious in people her own age.

This is of course Caletti’s point – no risk, really no possibilities of truly experiencing love, hope, even life.  So sometimes you have to leap, move to Africa to start a cocoa plantation you bought over email, say no to the marriage proposal so you don’t settle, let yourself fall in love with the father of your child, and kiss the boy who you hadn’t thought of kissing before.

You know I said Scarlet isn’t engaged with the world around her, and that isn’t really true – she cares about her neighbors, to the point of creating something wonderful for one of them.  And she sets up a couple at school (with some serious consequence) but all of that is a bit of not engaging with herself you know, not noticing the friend that takes advantage, or the source of why she is really pissed off, and how to respond to that.

It has taken a bit to write about this – I wasn’t totally sure about what to say.  It was a hard book to get my head (and my heart) around.  Caletti does that for me sometimes, but ultimately I end up respecting the story, and fundamentally the writing.

The Secret Life Of Prince Charming

If Sarah Dessen‘s books make me wonder about her mother issues (which she says she doesn’t have, and I believe her so maybe I should have said her character’s mother issues), Deb Caletti’s books makes me wonder about her father issues.

In The Secret Life of Prince Charming Quinn (my step daughter’s name btw – which she hates, says its a boy’s name but I’m thrilled a fictional girl has it) lives with her mother, grandmother, aunt, and sister after their father abandon them.  After a long absence he has become a part of their life, but all is not perfect.  When Quinn realizes some of her father’s prize objects belong to women he has dated, married, etc. (and some other traumatic events happen) this good girl contacts her half sister, and a trip to restore the items to their rightful owners, and maybe learn who their father really is materializes.

I have to admit I read this through adult woman eyes.  Which is to say I related to the older women’s stories of their loves more than Quinn’s journey.  I’ve had my share of the bad boys, the relationships that consume you even though you know they just aren’t right, and I have the “right one” now, and it isn’t what I thought it would be – its better.  And the stories and lessons the women left behind by Quinn’s father resonated with me.  At one point I thought – this isn’t really for teens, its for women my age.  But that isn’t entirely true because there is self discovery, what it means to be the child of divorce (which may be why I didn’t truly connect with Quinn, I have my own issues with that as a step mom), and a (predictable) romance.

One note – Sprout, the younger sister, while fun may have been a bit too precocious.  But I liked the other secondary characters.

Also the best “secret” being kept was Ivar, the dogs.  Laughted out loud.

My favorite Deb Caletti remains The Nature of Jade.

Also reviewed on my blog The Fortunes of Indigo Skye

What Others Thought:

A Patchwork of Books

Miss Print

Bookworm 4 Life

Ooops …. Wrong Cookie

and many, many more.

The Fortunes of Indigo Skye

What would you do if someone gave you a 2.5 million dollar tip.  Indigo Skye likes being a waitress, but sometimes she can’t keep her mouth shut.  Which results in the biggest tip she has ever received.  She is certain the money won’t change her, but it does.  And it changes those around her.

One thing that felt off to me about the book, is I thought she had a little right to be mad at Trevor, her boyfriend.   He did seem a little obsessed with the money.

I like Deb Caletti.  I really loved The Nature of Jade. She writes about real people – and she does it well.

I guess forgiveness, like happiness, isn’t a final destination.  You don’t one day get there and get to stay.

Her real people sometimes end up in unreal situations, like a 2.5 million dollar tip but how they handle it seems true.  “Insist on yourself”, what Indigo Skye finally comes to.

2 books down, this one was 298 pages for a total of 318 pages. Time reading for this book 2.5 hours.  Will total later.