Friday, February 17, 2012
The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
Matt, the eldest at fifteen, is the story's narrator, and a good one at that. Matt knows what it is to live in fear and to want to escape, but he knows he can't leave without his two sisters who he will protect at any cost. Despite the odds, though, Matt still hasn't given up hope that their dangerous circumstances could change, that their father could man up even though he's almost as terrified of unstable Nikki as the kids are or that Aunt Bobbie could step in when she hears the commotion upstairs. It's this outside hope and other reasons that even Matt can't give voice to, that he searches for an ally in Murdoch, and finds one. Matt, with all his hopes and the fear that encroaches upon them, is the perfect window into the lives of abused kids. Werlin uses his narration to great effect, giving us a sense of just how easily and random it was to attract Nikki's senseless rage and how it's lurking at the edge of even the most trivial encounter.
The Rules of Survival is a page-turner of a book that will catch readers up in its twists and turns. It's a frighteningly realistic portrayal of abuse, how easy it is for kids to be trapped by it when adults that should care do nothing. Matt, Callie, and Emmy's story is ultimately one of change and of redemption, but it's one that makes you wonder and worry all the kids for whom it's not.
(No disclaimer needed - this one I done bought for myself!)