Synopses & Reviews
If youre a girl, you should strive to look like the model on the cover of a magazine. If youre a boy, you should play sports and be good at them. If youre smart, you should immediately go to college after high school, and get a job that makes you rich. Above all, be normal.
Wrong, say 35 leading middle grade and young adult authors. Growing up is challenging enough; it doesnt have to be complicated by convoluted, outdated, or even cruel rules, both spoken and unspoken. Parents, peers, teachers, the media, and the rest of society sometimes have impossible expectations of teenagers. These restrictions can limit creativity, break spirits, and demand that teens sacrifice personality for popularity.
In these personal, funny, moving, and poignant essays, Kathryn Erskine (Mockingbird), Matthew Quick (The Silver Linings Playbook), Gary D. Schmidt (The Wednesday Wars), Sara Zarr (Story of a Girl), and many others share anecdotes and lessons learned from their own lives in order to show you that some rules just beg to be broken.
"From 'Never Talk About Religion' (Sara Zarr) to 'Boys Don't Cry' (Chris Lynch), 35 writers contribute essays titled by 'rules' for teens to break or ignore. Editor Reynolds proves he's not above rule breaking, too: despite the subtitle, several contributors (Rob Buyea, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, and Mike Jung, among others) are technically middle-grade authors. Much of the advice from rejecting conventional standards of beauty to not worrying about fitting in may be familiar to many readers, though that doesn't make it any less sound. In the strongest entries, the writers use examples of their own past struggles to subtly drive home their messages. Matthew Quick is honest about the nervousness, and rewards, that come with leaving one's comfort zone; Gary D. Schmidt describes a moment of betrayal and awakening in a church youth group; Margo Rabb hilariously imagines Georgia O'Keeffe as a guest on What Not to Wear ('Go to hell,' the artist tells the hosts, before hopping on a motorcycle to New Mexico, 'where she can wear whatever she likes'). Thanhha Lai perhaps puts it best: 'There is no rule to follow; there is no rule to break. You follow and break rules just by the act of living.' Proceeds from the sale of the book benefit the Children's Defense Fund. Ages 12 up. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“This book actually breaks the rules just by existing. This much sheer coolness should not be allowed in one volume!” —Jordan Sonnenblick, bestselling author, Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie
"These wonderful essays not only lay out good reasons for breaking rules, but they also provide lots of room for thought. If I could make one rule, it would be for every teen, parent, and teacher to read this collection. Wed all be better for it." —Kathi Appelt, author of the Newberry Honor-winning novel The Underneath
"Much of the advice—from rejecting conventional standards of beauty to not worrying about fitting in—may be familiar to many readers, though that doesnt make it any less sound. In the strongest entries, the writers use examples of their own past struggles to subtly drive home their messages." —Publishers Weekly
"Each contributor shares personal experience and advice, which makes for good, varied reading that will surely offer something unique for many readers. The essays are inspiring and thought-provoking, and many offer truly funny moments. Reynolds provides an excellent flow between essays" and "As readers head back to the classrooms this fall, these essays can serve as discussion starters and give readers a jumping-off point for thinking about the bigger picture and life after high school." —School Library Journal
"While each contribution is deeply heartfelt, the shining stars of the collection are those that elegantly guide the reader with authentic, personal specifics on journeys that are genuinely transformative." —Booklist
"This book is a hall pass to individuality, out-of-the-box thinking and self-expression. LOVE. IT." —Justine
"Each contributor shares personal experience and advice, which makes for good, varied reading that will surely offer something unique for many readers. The essays are inspiring and thought-provoking, and many offer truly funny moments." —School Library Journal
Middle grades and young adult authors speak candidly on the unspoken “rules” of adolescence in this collection of moving, inspiring, and often funny essays. This unique volume encourages readers to break with conformity and defy age-old, and typically inaccurate, orthodoxy—including such conventions as Boys cant be gentle, kind, or caring; One must wear Abercrombie & Fitch in order to fit in; Girls should act like girls; and One must go to college after finishing high school. With contributions from acclaimed, bestselling, and award-winning young adult authors—including Gary D. Schmidt, author of The Wednesday Wars; Matthew Quick, author of The Silver Linings Playbook; Sara Zarr, author of Story of a Girl; and Wendy Mass, author of A Mango-Shaped Space—this collection encourages individuality by breaking traditionally held norms, making it an ideal resource for tweens and teens.
About the Author
Luke Reynolds has taught middle school and high school English in Connecticut and Massachusetts, as well as composition at Northern Arizona University. He is the coeditor of Burned In and Dedicated to the People of Darfur and the author of A Call to Creativity, Keep Calm and Query On, and A New Man. His writing has appeared in the Arizona Daily Sun, the Hartford Courant, Mutuality magazine, the Sonora Review, Tucson Weekly, and the Writer. He lives in Boston.