It's still summer here, although I am back at work. However, I still have a big stack of summer books to read before the season is officially over. Rules of Summer is a young adult novel by Joanna Philbin (yes, she is Regis Philbin's daughter). I loved Philbin's The Daughters series. They were clean, fun and entertaining and I could hand them to fourth or fifth grade students and not worry about the content.
Rules of Summer is the first in a new series (at least that is what I think after having finished it) aimed at an older audience.
Rory is from New Jersey, excited to spend the summer with the Rules, the family her aunt Fee works for. The Rules are beyond wealthy and at first Rory is amazed by their kindness. All the Rules welcome her happily, except Isabel, the Rules youngest daughter. Isabel is a bit of a rebel, unlike her siblings in many ways. She is openly rude to Rory viewing her as someone beneath her.
Both girls are seventeen and are forced to spend time with each other. When Isabel falls for Mike, a guy from a working class family, it is Rory she talks to and who helps her in the relationship. Rory falls in love, too. With Conner Rule, Isabel's brother. Despite the Rules outward show of kindness, reality is very different, and Rory decides to keep their relationship a secret.
Parts of this were a little predictable - the whole boy/girl from the wrong side of the tracks dating someone wealthy, for example. And parts of it were a little unbelievable. But, if I were a teenage girl I would love this book; as an adult I am slightly more critical.
Philbin doesn't go into explicit details, but Isabel does sleep with Mike, which is where I determined this is truly a YA novel. Isabel tells Mike she loves him, but he doesn't reply, giving Philbin the perfect opportunity to impart a little wisdom about relationships to teen readers.
I will be recommending this to teen-age girls who enjoy a little romance and can't wait myself for the next installment about the Rules and Rory.