Rules We’re Meant to Break, by Natalie Williamson
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Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Length: 304 pages
Times Read: Once
Honest and full of heart, this clever contemporary romance debut deftly combines utterly relatable family drama with all the sweetness and uncertainty that comes with falling in love.
Rule #1: Don’t get attached.
Amber lives by strict rules to survive her mother’s love life: Always keep your eyes on the horizon and never get close to anyone connected to Mom’s boyfriends.
But after they move in with Kevin, the latest of her mom’s “soul mates,” the rules become increasingly difficult to follow. Kevin’s daughter, Cammie, keeps acting like Amber’s friend, even though she’s definitely not. And Jordan—star basketball player, hottest boy in school, and Cammie’s best friend—keeps showing up at the most inconvenient moments.
Amber has reasons for every one of her rules, and following them is the only way to protect her heart when her mom inevitably moves on. But as she spends more time with Kevin, his daughter, and especially Jordan, she starts to wonder if the rules might be worth breaking this time.
Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, Rules We’re Meant to Break is a charming, heartachingly real story of family and young love by debut author Natalie Williamson.
What I Liked: I have a love/hate relationship with Swoon Reads (unless you’re Katy Upperman who gets an automatic love forever and ever amen) and tbh my reaction usually veers more towards hate, which is why you don’t see a lot of reviews for their authors on here. But this one was SUCH A WIN!!
♥ Amber’s list makes a lot of sense. Her mom is really nice, but also kind of the worst mom ever, the way she moves her kid in and out of people’s lives, holidays, families, homes. Amber’s rules are the only sense of control she has. They’re the only way she can try to keep herself from getting hurt again.
Technically, Rule #1 is “Always keep your eyes on the horizon”, but as a general theme, “Don’t get attached” is accurate, and it’s a nice tagline.
“Don’t get attached to anyone” is also my first piece of advice to anyone watching Game of Thrones for the first time.
♥ If you’re a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you’re going to love this book. Amber named her dog Buffy, it’s her and her friend’s favorite TV show, and they’re definitely part of the fandom. I’ve seen some reviews of people who hated that this was the show the author chose for them because it’s so old.
First of all, how dare you. This masterpiece ended in 2003 and that was YESTERDAY, okay?
But I came to the show after it ended and binged the whole thing after. I’ve done this with a LOT of shows. I don’t at all find it unrealistic for teenagers to choose a show that aired when they were still very young–if you connect to something, you connect to it. And now that we have all these streaming services, it’s so easy to try different things out.
Okay, defense of Buffy over. I just really love the show and really love that it was such a big part of this book.
Watching and obsessing over it is just one of the the things that Amber and her best friend Hannah do together. I love these two. They stick together, and Hannah is always there when Amber is being hard-headed about her rules and making things difficult for everyone. But they also have fights. They don’t always get along. They argue a lot, and I like it. That’s real friendship. That’s being there even when you don’t agree, even when you think your friend is being dumb. That’s being real, to disagree and then talk it out and make up.
♥ Speaking of friends, that brings us to Cammie and Jordan. They’ve been friends since they were kids, making Jordan Off-Limits, according to The Rules, once Amber’s mom gets together with Cammie’s dad. The problem? Amber has promised to help Jordan with his English papers, so she’s stuck seeing him outside of school. He’s their school’s star basketball player, so they start playing H.O.R.S.E. during tutoring breaks.
This gif is multi-purpose but you have to read the book to find out the second reference
The problem? Jordan is the sweetest little cinnamon roll, and Amber is finding it harder and harder to resist him. But he’s still Off-Limits. Even though he’s the type of guy who told his friends all about her. Even though he’s the type of guy who told his family all about her. Maybe the rules are actually holding her back…maybe it’s time to take another look at them…
♥ There’s also a lot of talk about college and how in the hell Amber is going to afford school and housing. It’s SUPER realistic, and sad that teenagers need to deal with this kind of stuff just to continue learning. I’m still paying off my college loans, so I totally related to this.
Favorite Quotes: “I don’t ever get a choice. I just get hurt. So the rules, following them, that’s my choice. It’s the only one I get. How can I break them, knowing that?”