Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Rules of Summer

Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin
Paperback, 352 pages

Published 23rd May 2013 by Atom

arc-or-review, books-i-own, young-adult, series-or-companions, realistic-fiction, read-in-2013, contemporary, cover-appeal, better-than-expected 
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:
There are two sides to every summer.

When seventeen-year-old Rory McShane steps off the bus in East Hampton, it's as if she's entered another universe, one populated by impossibly beautiful people wearing pressed khakis and driving expensive cars. She's signed on to be a summer errand girl for the Rules -- a wealthy family with an enormous beachfront mansion. Upon arrival, she's warned by other staff members to avoid socializing with the family, but Rory soon learns that may be easier said than done.

Stifled by her friends and her family's country club scene, seventeen-year-old Isabel Rule, the youngest of the family, embarks on a breathless romance with a guy whom her parents would never approve of. It's the summer for taking chances, and Isabel is bringing Rory along for the ride. But will Rory's own summer romance jeopardize her friendship with Isabel? And, after long-hidden family secrets surface, will the Rules' picture-perfect world ever be the same?

When I received this book through the post, I hadn't heard of it nor of the author, but I was immediately taken by the contemporary cover and the seasonal title. Admittedly, it's not been very summer-like here in North East England lately, but there's nothing like reading a book to completely sweep you away and, at least in your mind, change where you are! This book took me all the way to the sunny, extravagant Hamptons in the USA.

I wasn't sure if I liked the sound of this book from the blurb or not - a story of an 'average' teenage girl, Rory, leaving home for the summer to spend it in the Hamptons, working for a wealthy family. I don't think I'm the only one that would immediately worry that everything could be completely stereotyped when you read the premise. Nevertheless, I wanted an easy summer read so I gave it a go despite any worries I had, and I'm very glad that I did. I won't say that there are no stereotypes, of course there are some - there simply has to be - but thankfully the author manages to really reach inside the characters in this book, making them all independent and giving them each a real personality. 

The characters are of most importance in this book and it's interesting to see the differences between Rory's lifestyle and how the Rules live - though it's actually more interesting to see the similarities between them. Though the Rules may be of higher social status, this book really makes it clear that we're all human and a lot of things, especially emotions can't be changed or swayed thanks to money or popularity. Our two main characters are Rory and Isabel are initially two very separate girls with different lifestyles, but as the book progresses it is really interesting to see what they thought of each other and how they both helped each other in different ways. I didn't particularly like Isabel at the beginning of the book, but thanks to her friendship with Rory she did change and definitely became more likeable. Looking back, from the beginning, Isabel was really the best character  for her role, as she initially had her own way of thinking, an attitude, even before Rory came into her life - this made her later actions more realistic and natural. 

This book isn't just about Rory and the Rules - there are also romance story lines running throughout as both Rory and Isabel find themselves falling in love with two very different guys that others may find unacceptable for them to date. Again, the class system and social status issues are tested with both parties. I think that Philbin managed it really well, not making the story too cliche and though it was at points somewhat predictable, not making it completely obvious what was going to happen next. The book was very easy to read and so was certainly a page turner. I enjoyed reading about both the friendships and the romantic relationships in this book and how they effected each other.

I enjoyed this book a lot more than first expected when I read the premise and that is because Philbin executed her ideas well. The message came through very clearly - love and friendship can be a lot more valuable than money or popularity and sometimes you do just have to follow your heart, even if others think it's a bad decision. I'd definitely recommend Rules of Summer to any young adult (and perhaps new adult) readers for an easy, enjoyable read this summer.


  1. Lovely review(:


  2. I read this last month and I gave it the same rating however I expected more. I felt the romantic lines were very cliche and I wasn't invested in any of the characters. However it is still a great summer read.

    great review,

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

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