“If I make sure I don’t get attached to anyone next time, it’ll be better for me when things end.”
– Natalie Williamson
Happy Book Birthday to Rules We’re Meant to Break! Find my original review below and consider picking this on up for the summer.
(Thank you to Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for and ARC of this novel)
- Always keep your eyes on the horizon
- Children of Mom’s boyfriends are roommates to be tolerated, not friends
- Get used to introducing yourself to strangers
- Related, get used to spending your holidays with strangers too, because that’s pretty much the norm
- Protect your plate at all large meal gatherings, holidays or otherwise
- Never ask Mom’s boyfriends for help, unless it’s a legitimate emergency
- Never get romantically involved with anyone connected to Mom’s boyfriends or their families
- Don’t get involved in any “family” drama, even if it’s juicy and hard to resist
- Keep your real life separate from Mom’s life with her current boyfriend
- Remember you love your mom. I know it’s hard sometimes. But do it anyways.
This story starts by introducing us to Amber on her birthday her freshman year of high school. She’s super excited about her birthday dinner that night with her mom’s boyfriend and his nephew that she’s hardcore crushing on, only to find out that while at school there’s been a breakup. While it turns out not to be the best birthday, Amber comforts herself by saving a puppy, Buffy, in front of a pet store and by creating a set of rules to keep her in check for the next men that enter her and her mom’s lives.
We then flash forward to her senior year where her mom has a new boyfriend, Kevin, whose house she is moving into. The rules are still in full effect, especially with all the ugliness surrounding the Kevins’ recent divorce and drama with his daughter Cammie. The only good thing about moving is that Jordan Baugh, her freshman year crush, lives down the street from her. After discovering that he is friends with Cammie though Rule 7 goes into effect. As Amber takes on the role of tutoring Jordan though, lines are blurred and some rules might need to be broken.
I loved Buffy!!! This dog was really the glue that pulled everyone together in my eyes. She was so dang good and well trained. Like this dog knew commands such as “chill” and “hang” which differed from the boring old stay and pillow. Everyone loved her and even those that immediately didn’t like her, she grew on. She was Amber’s safety net and future all rolled into one cute pup.
The friendship between Amber, Heather and later on Cammie was so perfectly realistic. Amber and Heather were the epitome of what friendship should be. They ebbed and flowed no matter the circumstances or changes that needed to happen like with college arrangements, boyfriends and Amber’s attachment issues. Heather was there when Amber needed her and also challenged some of the decisions she made, which we all need sometimes. Cammie came as a surprise to me. When we first meet her I assumed she’d be a spoiled brat and totally snobby, but during the novel she grew on both Amber and I.
The college decisions involving boys, friendships, and money were all factors that were handled beautifully and realistically. I got nervous there for a bit with some of the factors, but in the end everyone made their own decisions for the right reasons.
While Amber had a ton of growth, I felt like there could have been more and I wanted more for her. She did quite a few hurtful things to the people around her, and while she had the self-awareness to know that she generally never really explained or apologized sufficiently. Her friends, Kevin and even Jordan were forced to take the high road in some of these situations and move on from it. It would’ve been nice if she had stepped up a bit more.
The romance was sweet and I loved Jordan, but after finishing the book I realized I knew nothing about him except that he loved basketball, was a pretty good player, struggled with writing, and had a bisexual sister. What did he want to go to college for? Did he think he could go pro? What were his dreams besides basketball? How long had he liked Amber? How did he get into basketball? I would have liked more depth to him which would have added a bit more to the romance as well.
This overall was a cute little summer read. I might have to buy a finished copy of it just so I can reread it while sunbathing next to the pool this summer. It was a light read that I thoroughly enjoyed and for her debut novel I’d say Natalie Williamson did an amazing job. It was comparable to Julie Buxbaum and Jenn Bennett, two of my favorite summer reads authors. I can’t wait to see what novel Williamson puts out next!