Book Thoughts: The Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin

(**I read this title on Netgalley through the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

There are two sides to every summer.

When seventeen-year-old Rory McShane steps off the bus in East Hampton, it’s as if she’s entered another universe–one populated by impossibly beautiful people wearing pressed khakis and driving expensive cars. She’s signed on to be a summer errand girl for the Rules, a wealthy family with an enormous beachfront mansion, and maybe to sneak in some beach time. Upon arrival, she’s warned by other staff members to keep her head down and to avoid socializing with the family, but Rory soon learns that may be easier said than done.

Feeling claustrophobic in her country-club world, the youngest and most impulsive Rule child, seventeen-year-old Isabel, embarks on a breathless summer romance that her family would never approve of. Isabel has decided that this is the summer for taking chances, and she’s bringing Rory along for the ride. The girls forge a true friendship, but when long-hidden secrets start to surface and Rory reveals that she has feelings for someone, too–Connor Rule, Isabel’s older brother–their relationship is put to the test.

It was a sign that I got to read this book right as the school year began to wind down. Let’s be honest; most people enjoy summer. And what better way is there to begin summer than with a cute summer novel to kick it off?

I have to say, the beginning did not do it for me.  I started this book all excited because for some reason I couldn’t get the title “The Rules of Summer” out of my mind. But when I started, I was disappointed to find that the first few pages didn’t hook me. Not only does the protagonist, Rory, appear to be immature, the writing is also immature. I was also disappointed by the copious clichés I was introduced to from the start: small town girl, mom with a lot of sucky boyfriends, blah blah blah; I’d heard (and read) it all before.

Upon starting the second chapter I began to feel a lot better about the book. Isabel – the rich girl – is more ‘normal’ than I first assumed. She’s not the whiney, princessy girl that I thought she would be. I actually enjoyed the first chapter that focuses on her more than the first chapter on Rory.

From there the story grew on me. A lot. I was entranced by the position Rory was in and curious to see Isabel’s attitude change. Although the story focuses more on Rory, Isabel has a nice little side story where she has a romance of her own. I enjoyed reading about both girls’ lives and how they intertwined throughout the summer.

Like any other summer romance novel I was also sucked into the blossoming relationship between Rory and Conner. Although cutesy romances aren’t my choice novel, I’m still a sucker for these stories. I was on the edge every time the two of them were in the same room with each other, just wondering what would happen and when it would happen. I rooted for them the whole time, feeling the same butterflies and sparks of emotion Rory did towards her crush. Honestly, who wouldn’t crush on Conner?

Overall, I’d say that The Rules of Summer is a solid summer read. It has enough serious plot twists in the story to entertain the other part of your heart that isn’t already captured by the romance, not to mention enough romance to make you jealous that your summer isn’t ever like this. If summer romance novels are for you, The Rules of Summer better be making it into your beach bag this season!

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