Release Date: June 11, 2019
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Honest and full of heart, this clever contemporary romance debut deftly combines utterly relatable family drama with all the sweetness and uncertainy 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.
Rules We’re Meant to Break has been on my radar since it was announced so I was so excited to have a chance to read this cute contemporary debut early!
Amber has a set of strict rules she lives by in order to survive her mother’s many boyfriends throughout the years. However, it starts to become more difficult to stick to these rules when they move in with Kevin, her mother’s current boyfriend, and his daughter, Cammie. Especially when the cute basketball player Amber is crushing on is also Cammie’s best friend.
All of Amber’s rules were very justifiable (and some were even funny). Amber has been hurt too many times in the past by getting close to her mother’s boyfriends and their families, only to be ripped away from them when her mother inevitably broke up with them. Amber’s rules are the protective barriers she raises in order to keep herself from being hurt. I’ve read many YA books were the mom’s boyfriends are always jerks, so I actually liked that all of the guys Amber’s mom dated seemed like decent men. It was a nice twist on a common trope. I especially liked Kevin and how sweet and supportive he was of Amber. Even when she constantly pushed him away, Kevin kept trying to connect with her, which made me hope he and Amber’s mom will stay together for a long time.
The supporting cast was fun. Jordan, the love interest, played basketball (my high school sport!!) so I loved seeing that. He and Amber bonded over playing HORSE while taking breaks from their tutoring sessions, which was super fun. I also loved watching Amber and Cammie’s relationship form as they each found their footing within their new family. I was so glad that Cammie was supportive of Amber and Jordan’s relationship and that this didn’t cause any drama between their kinda-almost-sister relationship. Cammie is definitely protective of Jordan, but she wasn’t in love with him which I appreciated.
Another huge role in the book was played by Amber’s dog, Buffy! I love that Buffy was a constant throughout the book and that Amber actually had to take care of her (feeding, walking, letting her outside, etc.). Amber also trained Buffy very well so it was pretty cool that the two of them had a close bond. It was also very neat that Amber was able to recognize this passion and put it to use by also working at a dog store and applying to a college program to specialize in it.
Honestly, I think the only part I really struggled with about the book (and why I knocked off a star) is the obsession with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Don’t get me wrong—I love that Amber obsessed over a TV show and connects with her friends through it, which is definitely something I did in high school and still do with my friends. I just found the Buffy part specifically to be very dated. I’m in my early twenties so I was a baby/toddler while Buffy was airing live on TV…that means current high school students were barely born by the time it ended. I understand that it was a very popular show (it’s been on my to-watch list for ages) and that it had quite a fan base, but it just seemed unrealistic to me that this would be the series when there’s so many current shows out there that teens obsess over today.
Overall, if you love dogs, basketball, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you are going to love Rules We’re Meant to Break!
*This ARC was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for a honest review.*
Sam@wlabbsays:June 10, 2019 at 4:10 PM
How amazing was Buffy AND that they didn’t kill the dog! YEAH!!! I really enjoyed this book. I thought the romance was precious, and they had a little meat there with the conflict between Amber and her mom. I would have loved a jump ahead ending, but I was still really happy with the way Williamson resolved all the plot lines.