Friday, June 28, 2013

The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin

Matthew kicks butt in the integrity zone; it just takes he and his sister a little time to figure out how to really get away from his psychotic mother, where are their advocates, and how can they survive, all before they get killed by her.

Nancy Werlin is an accomplished author but this is a first-time read for me. A mystery writer, she wrote The Double Helix among a handful of others and has earned a nice kitty of awards. The Rules of Survival models writing craft thoughtfully. The text reads like the letter Matt writes to his youngest sister. Because she is so young, she seemed to have forgotten the dangerous side of her mother at the time of his writing it. But Matthew cannot forget, and neither can his couple of years younger sister Callie. Once identifying why their father really left his marriage to their mother and experiencing her heavy hand in parenting (or whatever you want to call that ongoing sword slash), Matthew and Callie  craft ways to get away from their mother. It is not by any means easy, and the mother fiercely fights to maintain her ownership of them as she maneuvers her disturbed and violent life. Matt does indeed succeed, but the ending is a somber one. This is a rich but heartbreaking read, definitely worth it. I can imagine plenty of teens resonating with this book. That sad truth makes me want to shout the title to the world....The Rules of Survival!

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