Merry Wanderer of the Night  + [YA]

Review: The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

The Unwritten Rule as part of Elizabeth Scott week. I had been hoping to have this review up hours ago, but my internet has been broken since last night.: (

Anyway, this is a book I was a little nervous about reading when I initially picked it up. Having read two Scott books previously, one I really liked (my review of Something, Maybe) and one I really... didn't (so sorry Living Dead Girl) I was unsure where my emotions would fall on this one. Add to that fact that I have absolutely zero respect for cheaters, and I was, understandably, I think, a little nervous.

However, my fears were unfounded and although I wasn't quite as charmed by these characters as I was by those in Something, Maybe I really enjoyed this book. Sarah is a character that doesn't start the book strong. She doesn't have a lot of substance and pretty much all of her thoughts are consumed with Ryan, the boy she has had a crush on since 8th grade. But, Ryan is her best friend, Brianna's boyfriend, which means that he's totally off limits. But, all things are not as they seem. The more we learn about the trio, the more we become aware that there are some major problems with all of the relationships in question.

Sarah has liked Ryan forever. But things are different this year. Over the summer, he went from skinny (and a little geeky) to totally hott. They meet up at a party and are talking and having a great time until Brianna, the beautiful one comes into the room and whisks Ryan away. Suddenly, they are dating and Sarah is left feeling insanely guilty because she can't stop thinking about what it would be like the be the one with Ryan. But with all those looks and tension filled long pauses between the two of them, it looks like that interest is not one-sided.

The characters in this book were very well developed. I'm amazed at the conflicting emotions each character was able to pull from me. Let's start with Brianna. She is a bitch. There is no other word to describe this girl. Seriously. She belittles Sarah constantly, always pointing out that her skin is too shiny, her hair too frizzy, her clothes strange, but always camouflaged as helpful (Here, take my brush and try to comb some of that frizziness out of your hair). She is gorgeous, and she knows it. Sarah has had bad experiences in the past, where boys who have shown interest in her are really just trying to get close to Brianna, and while Brianna does feel really bad every time it happens, she also takes it as her due, and often tells Sarah that she will eventually be able to find some boy who likes her. She's toxic. BUT, I feel bad for her. I pity her immensely. Her parents use her as a weapon against each other, when they think of her at all. Her dad has just about completely written her off, and her mom says all the same horrible things to Brianna that she then passes along onto Sarah. But you can feel her pain and her suffering and you do feel oh so very bad for her.

Sarah is also a more complex character than she first appears. It's pretty obvious that living for so long in Brianna's shadow has been bad for her, but all she can see is her glorious best friend. She ignores a lot of her flaws and makes excuses for her behavior. But even Sarah has her limits. She has a great strength of character that just takes a little while to really show itself. She also has some interests and hobbies that she focuses on, no matter how belittling Brianna is of them, like her shoe art. She buys plain white shoes and decorates them. She is also torn up about the way she feels about Ryan. She doesn't want to hurt Brianna, but she's liked Ryan forever and she just can't help it, especially now that Brianna has been asking her to come hang out with them all the time. Just the three of them.

And Ryan is also great. He has a lot more to him than the typical YA hero and he's just a pretty solid guy. He shares a lot of the same interests as Sarah and he's trying to figure out where he fits best in life. I also liked that he had his two sides — pre-hottie and post-hottie and he didn't let the fact that he had filled out over the summer change who he was as a person. He isn't one of those guys that thinks because he's now attractive, he's entitled to being an a**. And Sarah and Ryan have a history, sort of. They've circled each other for years, friends but not best friends and both not quite sure of where things will go next. And then, enter Brianna.

I thought that this book was just very well written. All the individual elements of the story were handled beautifully and combined in such a way that I just don't know how this story could have happened any different. Watching Sarah learn who she was, and how to be that person independent of Brianna was amazing. I don't think that anyone deserves to be cheated on. Ever. But, the way that Scott handled this one made me hopeful for all the characters involved. I still don't condone cheating and I don't think it's ever your best option, but these characters were just so achingly real and honest, I couldn't help but root for them.