Friday, 23 August 2013

Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin

About the book
Rules of Summer is a stand-alone young adult novel by Joanna Philbin. It was published by Atom on 23rd May and the book is 352 pages long.

Plot Synopsis
Before heading off to college, Rory McShane wants to have a summer doing something different and more importantly, she wants to get away from her mother for a while. Due to a favour from a family member, Rory finds herself getting off the bus in East Hampton ready to experience a summer like never before. She’s signed on to be an errand girl for the Rules – an extremely wealthy family. The one thing she has to remember is not to socialise with the family but that may be easier said than done.

Isabel Rule is unlike the rest of her family. She’s the black sheep who always seems to be getting into trouble. Not really caring what the rest of her family thinks, she embarks on a relationship with a guy from the wrong side of the tracks. At the same time, a friendship blooms between Isabel and Rory but family secrets and romances could ruin the whole summer for everyone.

What I thought
During the warmer months I love a good summer read but this year I haven’t had that many. Rules of Summer came at a time when I was in a bit of a reading rut and it seemed like something light and fun that would get me out of said rut.

Rory, one of the main characters, has a nightmare of a mother and she can’t wait to get away from her. Luckily, her aunt works for a well-off family in East Hampton and manages to get her a job for the summer before going to college. When Rory gets there though, she’s amazed at the house that she’s about to stay in and even more so, the family who she’ll be working for. East Hampton is far from what Rory is used to and she fears she won’t fit in at all.

Although told from the points of view of both Rory and Isabel, Rory really is the main character as the book starts with her. She was a character who I liked a lot. Rory comes from a place and family with not a lot of money and she’s prepared to work hard to make something better of her life. What I liked the most about Rory was that she was extremely down to earth which is shown through how stuck up and snobbish some of the other people were. Through her summer job, Rory is able to experience a completely different way of life and learns that not all rich people are snobs, which was a nice touch.

While doing her job for the summer, Rory makes an unlikely friend in Isabel, the family’s daughter. Rory and Isabel are about the same age but very different in personalities. Isabel likes her life and the fact that she can pretty much do whatever she wants with her friends but not long into the book, her ideas about life begin to change. Meeting Rory makes Isabel open her eyes to the people she calls friends and how they act towards other people. I really enjoyed seeing Isabel change over the course of the book and to see her and Rory get closer as friends.

A summer read wouldn’t be the same without a romance going on and in this book there are two – one for both Rory and Isabel. Although both romances were very entertaining, they were both extremely different which I appreciated. It would have been easy for the two girls to have wonderful summer romances that worked out well but Joanna Philbin mixes things up a bit. Both girls go for guys outside of their normal tastes but one girl gets a happy ending while the other doesn’t. I liked that this book wasn’t all happy and smiley the whole time and that it gave a bit of variety.

Overall plot wise, Rules of Summer was fun. There is quite a lot going on and a fair few characters to remember but I think this made the summer seem busy and exciting. Along with finding out more about both Rory and Isabel and their friendship/ romances, there are also some more important issues being raised. I liked that Philbin tackled issues surrounding different kinds of family dynamics and the problems they face. This was shown really well through Rory and Isabel coming from very different families with varying amount of money and success.

I really enjoyed Rules of Summer. It was different but fun at the same time with great characters! 

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