Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin
There are two sides to every summer.
When seventeen-year-old Rory McShane steps off the bus in East Hampton, it’s as if she’s entered another universe, one populated by impossibly beautiful people wearing pressed khakis and driving expensive cars. She’s signed on to be a summer errand girl for the Rules — a wealthy family with an enormous beachfront mansion. Upon arrival, she’s warned by other staff members to avoid socializing with the family, but Rory soon learns that may be easier said than done.
Stifled by her friends and her family’s country club scene, seventeen-year-old Isabel Rule, the youngest of the family, embarks on a breathless romance with a guy whom her parents would never approve of. It’s the summer for taking chances, and Isabel is bringing Rory along for the ride. But will Rory’s own summer romance jeopardize her friendship with Isabel? And, after long-hidden family secrets surface, will the Rules’ picture-perfect world ever be the same?
So this was an impulse purchase. After debating and looking around for a book to buy, I quickly grabbed Rules of Summer and quickly realized I should have left it on the shelf.
Most elements in Rules of Summer felt cliché and lackluster: poor girl, snobby rich family, the boy from the wrong part of town. Nothing truly felt original or unpredictable; instead, most plot twists came as a bit of a bore because I saw them coming from a mile away.
My feelings toward Rory are just meh. She didn’t necessarily do anything to make me dislike her, but neither did she do anything to make me feel any real emotion regarding her character and actions.
I liked reading Isabel’s perspective slightly better, though her story is basically defined by her “breathless romance”. Her love interest, Mike, is as interesting as a pile of rocks. Mike felt icky the whole book, and I wanted to shake Isabel until she saw it too. Connor, Rory’s crush, is also bland. Not much to really say about him.
One positive I took away from Rules of Summer is Rory and Isabel’s friendship, which they eventually learn is more important to each other than summer flings.
If you’ve read plenty of summer books, Rules of Summer probably won’t be very engaging. However, a newer YA reader may appreciate it more.