None of the Regular Rules by Erin Downing
Publication date: November 20th 2012
Genre: YA Romance/Coming-of-Age
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Sometimes, a few dares can change lives…
The weekend before the start of senior year, Sophie Erickson and her best friends, Ella and Grace, discover a handwritten list of dares tucked away in the glove compartment of Sophie’s beat-up old Toyota. But this isn’t just any list; it’s a dead girl's bucket list.
Sophie's beloved aunt Suzy died as a teenager in a fatal fall, leaving Sophie with an overly cautious family, a few fading photographs, and a bucket of bolts that barely passes for a car. But now, Sophie has Suzy’s list of the things she wanted to do in her last year of high school. Sophie can't help but wonder: What would happen if she tried to fulfill Suzy’s last wishes, to live out the longed-for life of her aunt, her hero?
As Sophie and her friends attempt to knock off the things on Suzy's list of dares, love blossoms in unexpected places and Sophie begins to feel that her life is finally coming together...when in fact, everything is slowly unraveling around her. When the truth about a long-held family secret threatens to shatter everything she believed to be true, Sophie is forced to question everything she knew about the life and people she believed in, and ultimately herself.
When I first read the synopsis of None of the Regular Rules, it sounded like a cute YA contemporary romance and something that might be a fun, light read. But None of the Regular Rules is far more than that - it's a story about friendship, self-discovery and growing up.
Sophie is an average girl in her last year of high school - she's dedicated to her two best friends, Ella and Grace, and struggling to decide what she wants to do with her life after school. It's only when the girls Sophie's dead aunt Suzy's bucket list hidden in her car, they decide to live out Suzy's list for themselves.
I loved that all three different girls had very different personalities, interests and ambitions and yet they were still close friends - Grace is composed and focused, Ella is outspoken and alternative and Sophie is kind and caring. But what really surprised me was the boy at the center of the romance - he could have been a bit of a wanker but instead he was incredible grounded, kind and very likable, and his relationship didn't feel like it was insta-love or too forced - it just naturally progressed.
The idea of a bucket list is something that appeals to me as a fanatical list writer, but I liked that Erin Downing kept things realistic - there's no outlandish pranks or unrealistic scenarios - it's all completely believable.
The only thing that I found a little difficult to understand was Sophie's relationship with her parents - although she felt they were overprotective, I didn't actually get that feeling myself, and there weren't any obvious conversations where they sat her down and laid out the rules - in fact at times they appeared to be very laid-back.
None of the Regular Rules was a book that I very much enjoyed - I loved being part of Sophie and her friends' journey through Suzy's bucket list, and also seeing them evolve and grow throughout the story, even though things didn't always go to plan. And the ending was just perfect!
About the Author
Erin Downing has written more than a dozen books for young adults, tweens, and kids. Her guilty pleasures include an unhealthy obsession with reality TV and cheesy romantic dramas (Revenge! Alias!), an addiction to Us Weekly magazine, and cupcakes.
Before turning to writing full time, Erin worked as a book editor, spent a few months as a cookie inventor, and also worked for Nickelodeon. Erin has lived in England, Sweden, and New York City, and now resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband and kids. More information about Erin and her books can be found at:www.erindowning.com, on Goodreads, Twitter or Facebook.