September 2, 2013

Review: Break These Rules

Break These Rules 35 YA Authors on Speaking Up, Standing Out, and Being Yourself
Edited by Luke Reynolds
Available now from Chicago Review Press
Review copy

First off, this title is slightly misleading: it's a mix of young adult and middle grade authors writing about breaking rules.  I'd name and link to all of the authors, but last time I did that I decided the effort wasn't worth it.  Second off, most of the authors are worth looking up.

Each author focuses on a different rule, which titles their essay.  Therefore, a quick scan of the table of contents is probably enough to help you decide whether this collection is for you.  I quite enjoyed it, and thought that much of the advice wasn't quite what I expected.  I liked Wendy Mass advising people to be bored sometimes.  (She's not the only one.)  I groaned when I saw the title "Follow the Money, Not Your Heart" (Lisa Schroeder) since I currently am in a position where I really wish I had followed the money, but the advice tends more towards balance.  There are times to follow your heart and times to follow the money.  (Too bad figuring out which is which is hard!)

There's a nice mix of well-known names (A.S. King, Matthew Quick, Carl Deuker) and more obscure authors (Sayantani Dasgupta, Natalie Dias Lorenzi, Anna Staniszewski).  There were enough familiar names to draw me in, and enough unfamiliar ones that sounded like they wrote cool stuff that I have plenty of new books to track down and read.

BREAK THESE RULES is unlikely to be a revelatory experience for adults, or even for the teens its aimed at.  But it's less pat that you might expect.  Some advice is pretty common - speak up or not having to look like a model.  Other advice is something a young person might not hear much, like it's okay not to go to college.  Others were unexpected, like Sara Zarr advocating talking about religion with people.

And, of course, the many authors in the anthology note that some rules are worth following.  (I don't  know about you, but I'll stick to driving the right way down the road and not touching the power line with bare hands.)  But in the end, we all break rules.  What rules have you broken lately?


  1. I'm interested in what Mass has to say about being bored-that's something I struggle with on occasion and thus something I've been wrestling with.

  2. Sounds like a unique anthology! I'm curious about the not-so-common rules!


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