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Rules of the Road (Rules of the Road #1)

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  3,699 ratings  ·  359 reviews
Meet Jenna Boller, star employee at Gladstone Shoe Store in Chicago. Standing a gawky 5'11" at 16 years old, Jenna is the kind of girl most likely to stand out in the crowd for all the wrong reasons. But that doesn't stop Madeline Gladstone, the president of Gladstone's Shoes 176 outlets in 37 states, from hiring Jenna to drive her cross country in a last ditch effort to s ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 7th 2005 by Corgi Childrens (first published 1998)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Divya
I thought that this is one of Bauer's best books yet! I love how she transforms what people consider a lowly job into something of interest.
Jenna is normal, and one thing I love is that the author doesn't emphasize on what she looks like. She works at Gladstone's, a shoe store, where she is passionate about selling shoes. As the book went on I began to wish that I sold shoes too. Jenna has a sister, Faith, a witty mom, and an alcoholic dad. Her mom, Jenna, and Faith left her dad years ago, yet
...more
Sarah
This is the kind of book about women that the world needs, which is to say it is in no way chick-lit. The protagonist is an ugly-duckling teenager who loves to sell shoes and chaffeurs her 70-something boss around the midwestern and southern US. The majority of the book is spent with this teenage girl, who is anything but frivolous, and a hard-as-nails septuagenarian. There are a couple kind-hearted shoes salesmen and a drunken father, but these are just bit parts. At this book's heart is a stor ...more
Linda Lipko
Dealing with the very tough topic of alcoholism and the way in which it impacts those in contact with the alcoholic, Bauer appears to know this topic well.

As the oldest child of an alcoholic father, Jenna has learned the games involved, the lies, the deceit and the shame. She has learned all too well how to feel responsible and guilty. When her near do well father breezes into town drunk once again, she decides to take advantage of a unique opportunity.

Working as a shoe sales person in Gladstone
...more
Madelyn Novosad
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cherylann
I feel like I've been reading books about quests lately. My last two books were fantasies in which the heroes and heroines headed off on a quest to save either the world or their clan and restore balance to the world. In Rules of the Road, the protagonist is not a demi-god or a vessel. She's just a 16 year old girl. A 16 year old who works part-time selling shoes and hopes to earn enough money over the summer to buy a car. Jenna never expected Mrs. Gladstone, the aging owner of a chain of shoe s ...more
Raelene
Fantastic; I can't give this one enough stars. I'm particularly impressed with the characterization and voice of Bauer's 16 year old protagonist. There is no condescension, no "dumbing-down." It is obvious that she has great respect for teenagers and their strength of character, their capacity to think and to reason and to contribute, when given the opportunity, in even the most serious situations, and their potential to effect positive outcomes as a result of their own free will. I'd love to te ...more
Margaret H.
This was a comfort re-read and it worked just great. I love all of Joan Bauer's books, but this one might just be her best-- although Hope Was Here is pretty outstanding too. I think it's really the delicacy and intelligence with which Bauer handles Jenna's alcoholic dad that separates this book from more standard teen fare, especially when combined with the funny, innovative and fully-realized main plot. While the happy ending for the main plot is reached somewhat improbably, it obeys the inter ...more
Debbie
A 16 year old female protagonist narrates this story of her experiences one summer when her part-time job as a shoe salesperson extraordinaire turns into a six-week full-time job chauffeuring a cranky 73 year-old woman (the owner of a chain of shoe stores) from Chicago to Texas, giving her not only an opportunity to earn extra money towards buying a car, but to escape her alcoholic father who shows up back in town. Readers see her mature throughout the trip as she develops a friendship with her ...more
Teresa
Rated PG

I picked this off a shelf in the teen section of the library. This is not your typical teen book with sassy, whiny, boy chasing main characters. The sixteen year old girl in this story has good sense because she listened to her grandmother before the grandmother came down with Alzheimer's. The character is lovable in that she has the undeserved misfortune of having an alcoholic father who was never around when she needed him, and shows up at the most inopportune times. She works in a sho
...more
Gabrielle
This book is AMAZING!!!!!!!!

This book was about a young girl, Jenna Boller, who worked at a shoe store called Gladstone's. She is very tall and has many challenges in her family. Her dad drinks, her grandma can't remember things, her sister needs her care, and her mom is depressed. She is very scared to leave her family but at the same time she wants to. She has true dedication to selling shoes and makes sure everything she sells is quality.

This trip is very hard for Jenna because she is wor
...more
Vanessa Rojas
The book "Rules of the Road" is a book written by Joan Bauer. It's a young adult genre, which is also the winner of the Los Angeles Times book prize. The author write books about a strong character which is one of the reasons why I loved reading the book. The book is about a girl named Jenna, she is a teen who works at a shoe store which is anything but ordinary. As she tries to balance her social,family and work life it tends to get difficult when a guest comes by making it hard for Jenna to ba ...more
Uma Barbee
This was a great book not only to explain about how to stand up for what you believe in, but also giving a story of a girl who's job was selling shoes. Jenna is a 5'11'' girl who is a top rate shoe seller. She can sell shoes not only by looking at the custemer but by also knowing the history of each shoe. When the owner of the shoestore want s Jenna to become her driver and assistent and go to Texas with her, she says yes and is not only getting paid but getting stock for the store. When the mee ...more
Ray Ziemer
I enjoyed this young adult novel, and I think I understand what critics like about it. Joan Bauer was honored by its winning of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and its selection as an ALA Notable Book, Best Book for Young Adults, ALA Quick Pick and an SLJ Best Book of the Year. Wow! I didn't think it was THAT good! I just don't know any more.

Some random thoughts:
The book was published in 1998. I wonder how it would compete with edgier stuff being written today. Can you even compare a contempora
...more
Anneliese F.
This book was phenomenal! The ending had such an amazing surprise and then rushed into little sequences to follow the ending! This book was written to entertain readers. And as a matter of fact, IT DID! This novel is a feel-good, strong, and powerful book for sure! Joan Bauer is an amazing author and I would personally like to thank her for creating such an inspiring and award-winning (at least to me) novel, Rules of the Road.
Diana
Who knew I could love a book that talked about shoes from the beginning to the end. And not the glamorous side of shoes either lol... But I enjoyed this book. Jenna has a lot to learn about life and about how her father's issues cannot rest on her shoulder's any longer if she is going to have a productive life. I enjoyed her journey almost as much as she did and I felt a genuine connection with her character.
Karen
This book was required reading for a young adult literature class. My plan was to read the first chapter and then skim until the last few chapters. Somewhere along the road, this book grabbed me and I didn't skim, I read each and every word. I didn't expect this book to speak to me, I didn't expect to feel a connection with the characters, I don't have any experience with selling shoes or alcoholic people in my family. This book spoke to me on the level of acceptance, control, forgiveness. It ma ...more
Sandra
Oct 17, 2014 Sandra rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Dena Lawrence
Shelves: ya-lit
I'd never read anything by Joan Bauer and I thoroughly enjoyed Rules of the Road. It's smart, funny, doesn't talk down to the readers, and certainly enjoyable for adults -- at least this adult, post-surgery and not able/willing to read heavier, more literary stuff.

Rules of the Road is not predictable or facile in any way -- a few of my predictions did not come true -- and leaves a few loose ends, but not so many that it's frustrating.

The only criticism I would have is that the young protagonist
...more
A b i g a i l  L.
This book encompasses the Summer of Jenna Bowler. A teenage girl whom has a rather impressive knowledge of the shoe world and it's costumers. She works at Gladstones shoes, a quality company of quality merchandise. Though, that image is threatened when the corpration decides to overthrow Ms. Gladstones 'old fashioned' marketing. Jenna Bowler is invited by Ms. Gladstone to chauffeur her from Chicago to Texas. I read this book for school, I was impressed with the character Jenna. I percieved her a ...more
Clarissa
Gave this to Alden to read, and he liked it... then I decided I should pick it up. I know that a number of my students have read it over the years. So, I read it. Here's my thinking: It had this dated feel to it... (it's about 16 years old, maybe, that is, written in the late 90s, I think). Sort of felt like "adolescent" YA lit, like it had not really matured or gotten where the genre has now gotten. Not sure I can explain it, but, it just had a sort of stilted feel to it. Glad I read it, but, n ...more
Andrea Wilkinson
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The main character is a strong female teen who deals some difficult things and comes out stronger because of it. She has an alcoholic father who has not been there for her the majority of her life. She visits her grandmother with Alzheimer's (who she dearly loves) every week in a care center. She learns to really listen to people while selling them comfortable shoes that will be a "good fit" for them. She learns to do hard things and how to get along with people w ...more
Jesus Ruiz
This book is absolutely awesome. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in traveling and to those who have great integrity towards business. The principles of this book is to explain the journeys that one takes and the development of new characteristics during a journey. The main character Jenna Boller is a ravishing character that loves her job and enjoys being a chauffeur for a period of time for her boss. Although being a chauffeur for a quite a long time makes her realize how be ...more
Bethany
Nov 26, 2014 Bethany rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: books-for-kelly
What a beautiful book about growing up emotionally. I think perhaps not enough people write about that. It's incredibly important and many of us skip it altogether.

Jenna is great at selling shoes. Really great. But the owner of the shoe store company asks her to be her driver for the summer, so she leaves her job and her alcoholic father behind to drive a great, big, white Mercedes from Chicago to Texas. And she learns a lot. I think I learned a lot too.

I recommend this book to everyone. It was
...more
Alice
Synopsis from Goodreads:
"Meet Jenna Boller, star employee at Gladstone s Shoe Store in Chicago. Standing a gawky 5'11'' at 16 years old, Jenna is the kind of girl most likely to stand out in the crowd - for all the wrong reasons. But that doesn t stop Madeline Gladstone, the president of Gladstone's Shoes 176 outlets in 37 states, from hiring Jenna to drive her cross country in a last ditch effort to stop Elden Gladstone from taking over his mother's company and turning a quality business into
...more
Amanda
Joan Bauer has a way of writing about normal people doing normal jobs and things, and making it so interesting. Things like pumpkin farming, waitressing, school news reporting. Normal kids struggling with normal things, everything from being too tall, weight issues, family problems, lack of confidence. She makes it all so interesting and the people so easy to love. There's nothing all that different about them. She just shows you the good things about normal people, and what they can do.

A lot
...more
Cui
This book is about this person that's traveling around united states selling shoes. She is a very brave girl and faces some problems in this story that requires alot of bravery to solve. During her trip, she stopped by this store and found out the owner of that store wasn't treater their customers with respect and she went in the store and acted like the 'owner' to help the customers with what they need. She also called the police to stop the owner of that store from being that rude to her custo ...more
Arielle
To start off, this is a very short read. I’d say it’s a great book to read in between two larger, more complex books, because it is nice break from everything.

The story is a very cute one I must say. One that I have never read before and one that not many could pull off…but Joan Bauer did. Its not the ordinary love story, or tragic tale of a misfit teen.

Jenna is a teenage girl who “worships” her drivers license, yet she doesn’t have a car to drive. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t trying to get o
...more
Lola
When I first read the description of Rules of the Road, I thought, 'I'm probably not going to love this book, but it will be a cute read'. And that's excatly what it was and what it shoul be. Cute is the exact word I would use to describe this book. Jenna is relatable, her roadtrip with Mrs. Gladstone fun, and the ending neatly wrapped up in a not too predictable manner. I was very surprised when I saw there was a sequel to Rules of the Road because I thought it was a pretty good standalone nov ...more
Breda
Having loved HOPE WAS HERE, I was very excited to read this book. I was very disappointed when I realized that the two books were basically the same, both in superficialities and in the greater themes: absent parent, finding oneself through retail, the struggle for honesty and goodness in a world that tries to undermine them. The similarities ran so deep that I felt as though Bauer was writing from a template, even down to the headline-style summations. Reading one of these books is a must for t ...more
Gaby
Sixteen-year-old Jenna Boller is having a hard enough time dealing with the thrills of her every day hectic life and her being six feet tall doesnt help to make matters better. With her father as an alcoholic that's basically out of her life, Jenna has to care for her picture-perfect sister and her grandmother with Alzheimers who she fequently visits at the nursing home. To help her mother make ends meet, Jenna works at Gladstone's shoe store. Jenna finds a passion in selling shoes and truly car ...more
Steve Clark
Jenna reminds me of many of my students in being placed in a position which calls on her to be mature and responsible beyond her years. She has issues with her alcoholic father, and struggles with her awkward 5'11" stature that leaves her feeling unattractive next to her model-to-be younger sister. She lives by a motto of "Cope or die". She is fortunate that her mother, an emergency room nurse, is strong, patient, and caring. She is lucky in that she finds a job selling shoes that resonates wit ...more
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Awesome book! 4 25 Mar 01, 2012 06:06PM  
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From: http://www.joanbauer.com/jbbio.html

July 12, 1951 - I was born at eleven A.M., a most reasonable time, my mother often said, and when the nurse put me in my mother's arms for the first time I had both a nasty case of the hiccups and no discernible forehead (it's since grown in). I've always believed in comic entrances.

As I grew up in River Forest, Illinois, in the 1950's, I seem to remember a
...more
More about Joan Bauer...
Hope Was Here Close to Famous Almost Home Peeled Best Foot Forward (Rules of the Road, #2)

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“My grandma always said that God made libraries so that people didn't have any excuse to be stupid.” 656 likes
“It seemed to me that the people who made the rules of the road had figured out everything that would help a person drive safely right down to having a sign that tells you you're passing through a place where deer cross. Somebody should stick up some signs on the highway of life.

CAUTION: JERKS CROSSING.

Blinking yellow lights when you're about to to something stupid.

Stop signs in front of people who could hurt you.

Green lights shining when you're doing the right thing.

It would make the whole experience easier.”
27 likes
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