Katie Fitzgerald's Reviews > Ten Rules for Living with My Sister

Ten Rules for Living with My Sister by Ann M. Martin
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's review
Oct 24, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: genre-realistic-fiction, level-middle-grade
Read in October, 2011

Nine-year-old Pearl and her thirteen-year-old sister Lexie could not be more different. Lexie is so popular, she even has a boyfriend, but Pearl has just one friend, a first-grader named Justine, and the only boy who pays any attention to her is the family cat, Bitey. Lexie is so sophisticated, she has a cell phone and her own key to the apartment, but Pearl has to be reminded not to wander into her sister's room in her underwear, and she is ostracized at school because of some awkward and dorky things she did last year that her classmates have yet to forget. These differences are highlighted when the girls ' grandfather, Daddy Bo, moves in, and they are forced to share a room. Things are further complicated for the family when it slowly becomes evident that Daddy Bo has dementia.

Though I thought I was pretty familiar with Ann M. Martin's writing prior to reading this book, Ten Rules for Living With My Sister still managed to surprise and impress me in a number of ways.

The first thing that really stood out for me was the relationship between Pearl and Lexie. I know Ann M. Martin grew up with a younger sister, and that many of her books over the years have involved sibling relationships in some way, but the dynamic between these two girls specifically felt extremely realistic. Martin clearly understands the feelings of both older and younger siblings, and remains very true to the emotions associated with each point of view.

Another really impressive aspect of this book was the way Martin gets the reader to like a character with a lot of unlikeable characteristics. Pearl is annoying, nosy, strange, nerdy, and awkward. She has trouble connecting with kids her own age, and can't figure out how to act around her sister to save her life. And yet, there is a spark in her personality that makes the reader root for her anyway. If another child met Pearl in her classroom, she might be put off by her weirdness, but by getting thoroughly inside her head, Martin makes us want to get to know her.

Martin's treatment of Daddy Bo's deteriorating mental state is the third really strong aspect of this book. The scenes where Pearl slowly begins to realize that her grandfather isn't behaving like his old self are both chilling and sad. I also thought that the way Daddy Bo's health issues affect the entire family was another realistic aspect of the story that made me buy into this family's dynamic that much more.

The Baby-sitters Club books may be Ann M. Martin's best known works, but Ten Rules for Living with My Sister, and her other more literary middle grade novels, especially Belle Teal, Corner of the Universe, and Here Today, demonstrate that there is much more to her writing than those formulaic series books. Ten Rules For Living With My Sister is a unique, layered, and engaging novel that girls in grades 4 to 6, especially, will truly enjoy, especially if they themselves have sisters of their own.

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Reading Progress

09/22/2016 marked as: read-2011
12/18/2016 marked as: read

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