Ruhama's Reviews > The Rules of Survival

The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
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's review
Jun 16, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: teen
Read in August, 2007

Matthew is writing a letter to his younger half sister to help her remember what their childhood was like. Their mother is unpredictable and they often live in fear of how she will react when she comes home. Nor do they ever know if she'll be alone or not. The three kids never say anything about being abused because their mother is so unpredictable, and rarely does things that social workers, teachers or other adults describe as child abuse, so they say nothing. Their aunt, who lives downstairs, is little help, as is Matthew and Callie's father (the youngest sister has a different father). When the two older kids see Murdoch stand up for a boy who was about to be hit by his father, immediately Matthew wants to find and befriend Murdoch. Thus starts the healing of the family, though it is only though intense pain beforehand.

This is a powerful novel that's a bit hard to read (at least as an adult), as you just grieve for Matthew, Elly and Callie and how stuck they feel. The story is compelling and Matthew's character is fabulous (especially the way he develops over the years--we get glimpses, as he's writing this years later). This reads quickly, and will have teens eager to find out what exactly happens to Matthew's mother in the end.
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