What If… You Broke All the Rules by Liz Ruckdeschel and Sara James

May 22, 2007
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What If… You Broke All the Rules
Liz Ruckdeschel and Sara James

Delacorte Press for young readers
5/22/07
Trade Paperback/304 pages
ISBN: 0-385735014
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". . . the latest “choose your destiny” novel for pre-teens."

What if…You Broke All the Rules by Liz Ruckdeschel and Sara James is the latest “choose your destiny” novel for pre-teens. At the end of each chapter, the reader gets to decide how the plot will progress by choosing which page to go on to next. If the reader goes to a chapter that would cause someone harm at the end, they are given the admonition, “Hang your head and go back to page 1.”

We enter Haley’s life on Christmas Day as she opens her grandmother’s gift. It is a knitted panda dress complete with puff tails in back that her father requires she wear all day. The day is ruined when her mother, a lawyer, receives an emergency call to go into the office. She’s soon at the office more than at home.

The events of the book deal with behavioral/ethical options. How will the dethroning of the class “queens” be handled at the rave on New Year’s Eve that Haley might be attending? Or will she be at a party with old friends when the event of the year happens?

With her parents wrapped up in their own worlds, Haley is in charge of her brother, Mitchell, prompting him to ask, “Are we orphans?” Haley knows there’s more going on than just too much work. Enter the “other man” option.

One of the former “queen” girls has to keep her “best dressed” status by shoplifting, and Haley finds out about it. Rewards are offered by the stores and the police for the thief’s capture. More ethical options are introduced.

Finally, there are the spring break options. Will Haley be in Paris with Sasha and her mom and the cute guy next door, Reese? Or will she go to Spain with friends from the Spanish Group who meets at hot foreign exchange student Sebastian’s house? Or will she be taking care of her younger brother while working on photography projects with the artsy Devon?

The style is predominantly dialogue in keeping with the teen characters. The timeline covers about three months. Pacing is, in a way, set by the reader as he/she go back and forth between options. The book is unique because of the offering of behavioral options at the end of the chapters. However, this reader would have preferred a solid ending.

Reviewer: Denise Lowe

 

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