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The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

March 16th, 2010 (09:00 pm)
thirsty
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Current Mood: thirsty
Current Song: The Office score music

Everyone knows the unwritten rule: You don't like your best friend's boyfriend.

Sarah has broken that rule - or has she? She liked Ryan way before he was Brianna's boyfriend. She's known him since elementary school and liked him since at least middle school. He asked her out to a dance in the eighth grade, which he then couldn't attend because his grandmother passed away. When Ryan came back from the funeral, he overheard Brianna telling everyone that Sarah hadn't really wanted to go to the dance with him. Embarrassed and shy, Sarah never spoke up to correct things, and never told Brianna or Ryan how she felt.

Now Sarah is seventeen years old, and the object of her affection is dating her best friend.

There is no evil villain here, no friend who is really an enemy and out to get me. Brianna goes for what she wants, but she has never taken anything that was mine.

She's never needed to. Everything came freely given, and she has done nothing but be my friend.


Sarah and Brianna have been friends since kindergarten. Ryan and Brianna have been together for six weeks. As she always does, Sarah bites her tongue and hides her feelings. Lately, Brianna's been insisting that Sarah hang out with the pair, making Sarah feel like the biggest third wheel ever. When Ryan finally finds out how Sarah really feels, everything becomes wonderful and terrible all at once.

There are a million rules for being a girl. There are a million things you have to do to get through each day. High school has things that can trip you up, ruin you, people smile and say one thing and mean another, and you have to know all the rules, you have to know what you can and can't do.

In all of her contemporary novels, Elizabeth Scott shows that there's more to someone or something than meets the eye. With her newest work, Scott transcends the basic premise of a love triangle, giving it depth and meaning. The Unwritten Rule is not just a story about a girl who likes her best friend's boyfriend. While that premise may draw romantics to the story, it is the superb writing and steady pacing that will prompt teens to share this book - and maybe their own true feelings - with friends.

This is the real unwritten rule: You don't want what you know you shouldn't. And I haven't just broken that rule. I have wrecked it, smashed it, and still . . .

And still I want.


By putting others before herself, Sarah has, at times, cheated herself out of life experiences, both trivial and meaningful things. She's just now realizing this. She was often so busy trying to look out for Brianna that she didn't recognize her own true worth, and she certainly doesn't flaunt her talents. (She's an artist on canvas: she owns dozens of pairs of sneakers, most of which she's custom-designed or decorated herself.) Loyal to a fault, Sarah would do anything for her best friend. She is perfectly willing to let Brianna cry on her shoulder when she's sad, and she is perfectly happy to let Brianna be the center of attention when she's happy.

That's pretty easy, because Brianna has this naturally upbeat, lively energy. When she's into something, be it a role in the school play or even a class project, she will throw all of that energy and enthusiasm into it. Recently, though, Brianna seems to be both pulling away from Sarah and tugging her in close, and Sarah doesn't know what to do.

The girls always thought that they would be friends forever. This story is not about a boy coming between them; it's about how their reactions to his presence show who they really are, for better or worse. It's about how people can change. How friendships can change. How you can't always control those changes, but you should acknowledge them. And how maybe, just maybe, change can be for the better.

If you like The Unwritten Rule, you will also like Kissing the Bee by Kathe Koja. You should also try Elizabeth Scott's other books, starting with Bloom, as well as books by Sarah Dessen (Keeping the Moon) and Deb Caletti (Honey, Baby, Sweetheart).

Related Posts at Bildungsroman
Interview: Elizabeth Scott
Book Review: Bloom by Elizabeth Scott
Book Review: Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott
Book Review: Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott

Note: I have read and enjoyed all of Elizabeth Scott's books to date. I have written yet have yet to type and post reviews of Living Dead Girl, Something, Maybe, and Love You Hate You Miss You. I promise that I will.