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The Unwritten Rule Explores Teen Love and Friendship

April 7, 2010
The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott
published by Simon Pulse March 16, 2010

Sarah has been attracted to Ryan since eighth grade. Smart, quiet, and petite, with a passion for decorating sneakers, Sarah lives in the shadow of her gorgeous best friend, Brianna. When Ryan approaches her at a party, they have a “moment” while discussing a painting, a rather avant-garde piece that looks like — well — poop. Literally. Then Brianna appears and makes her move, and by the next day she and Ryan are dating.

Everyone knows the unwritten rule, of course: you’re not supposed to like your best friend’s boyfriend. But Sarah can’t get Ryan out of her heart. To further complicate things, Ryan likes her too. Sarah is coping with  many layers of emotion, including the wonder and exhilaration of first love, loyalty to Brianna, and excruciating guilt.

Sarah’s friendship with Brianna is complicated and heart-wrenchingly real. Brianna loves Sarah in a way that is intense but, on every level, tangled with her need to control her. She needs Sarah not to be her equal — she needs to be superior. All this reflects the way Brianna has been treated by her parents. Brianna is a character who provokes both intense anger or dislike and deep compassion.

The Unwritten Rule was not one of my favorite YA novels, I agree with the reviewer at All Things Print that it’s repetitive. Sarah goes through the same thoughts and reactions again and again. This is probably realistic, reflecting what it’s like to be stuck in a difficult situation. However it made the story drag for me. On the other hand, Elizabeth Scott captures the emotions of adolescent first love very well, and she creates believable relationships. Sarah’s loving but painful best-friendship with Brianna was thoroughly believable. And I liked Sarah’s relationship with her quirky, loving parents. In a genre in which parents are often distant, or conspicuously absent. Sarah’s close knit family was refreshing.

While I didn’t fall in love with this novel, I recommend it to readers of YA fiction and I will read more books by this author.

I borrowed this ARC from Around the World Book Tours.

Read More Reviews: Pure Imagination; All Things Print; Crazy for Books


5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 7, 2010 1:36 pm

    I agree with your review. 🙂 It's a sweet read & like you mentioned, Elizabeth captures the characters and their emotions perfectly. Not my favourite from her but enjoyable nonetheless.

  2. April 7, 2010 7:25 pm

    I love Elizabeth Scott and I really cannot wait to read this book. I'm sure I'll like it, even if it's not as great as her past releases. Thank you for your review. :]

  3. April 7, 2010 8:34 pm

    I'm sorry to hear you didn't love this. I've been meaning to read Scott for quite some time, but perhaps I should start elsewhere?

  4. April 8, 2010 2:52 am

    Yes, Unwritten Rule's Sarah ruminates a lot.

  5. April 8, 2010 1:48 pm

    Hmm…I'm really picky when it comes to YA. Even if it is realistic, I think the repetitive thoughts would drive me nuts!–AnnaDiary of an Eccentric

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