None of the Regular Rules by Erin Downing ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: November 18, 2012
Pages: 181 pages
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: senior year, family secrets, friendship, bucket list
Format read: ARC provided by the author. (Thank you!)
Summary: When Sophie inherits her deceased Aunt Suzy’s car, she finds a ten-year old list of her aunt’s in the glove compartment — filled with little goals to accomplish: steal a motorcycle, kiss a crush, get a tattoo or piercing… Bored with how things have gone lately and ready to make the most out of their year before college, Sophie and her best friends decide to take on Suzy’s list as their own and make things happen.
Two words: Johnny Rush.
I just had to get that out of my system. Even though romance isn’t the main premise of None of the Regular Rules, Johnny is kind of a memorable character. He’s Sophie’s next door neighbor, her long-time crush, and he has a girlfriend. But because he opts out of college when all his friends are off to start their freshman year, he’s hanging around a lot and falls into a friendship with Sophie.
Man, the tension is so thick. Johnny pops up everywhere, and you can tell they like each other, and it’s oh-so painful because he has a girlfriend, and, shock of all shocks, he is a complete stand-up guy. (You’ll have to figure out why yourself.) Despite the swoony stuff, I really liked how supportive he was of Sophie letting her hair down and doing things that scared her.
The big takeaway from None of the Regular Rules is the utter pressure of senior year. Aunt Suzy’s list serves as a great way to ensure time spent with Sophie and her two best friends, Ella and Grace. I loved their friendship so much; they were comfortable being honest with each other (even when it hurt) and made the effort to ensure they have ample hang out time. They are so game to conquer Suzy’s list, but it’s the complete sandstorm of senior year — the fear of the unknown, boys, crazy changes — that starts to chip away at their relationships with one another. It’s been a long time since I read a book where actual friends were fighting with each other, and this particular situation felt entirely authentic.
Family dynamics are also tested because Aunt Suzy’s name has become pretty taboo around Sophie’s household. After her death, no one talked about her anymore and Sophie never understood why. Adopting the list and going on these adventures makes her feel closer to her aunt, and when certain truths come to the surface, they hit that much harder. For all the steps Sophie has taken to being spontaneous and acting outside of her comfort zone, there’s a point where she ends up totally retracting and losing focus on what’s important.
None of the Regular Rules is a super fast-paced read that will keep you entertained until the very end. Sure, the storyline is a little thin at times and there are some uber-dramatic moments but I liked how not every character chose the same path post-high school, Sophie building the courage to confront her protective parents, and the mix of impatience and fear that comes with moving on from high school to college.
And there’s Johnny Rush. Did I mention that?