This is the first romantic fiction I've read by Elizabeth Scott and my second book overall. The first book being Living Dead Girl which I couldn't put down. Unfortunately I read Living Dead Girl before I started this blog so I didn't write a review entry for it. Still it is one of my top recommended books for teens. It was haunting and sad but one of those books that seemed like it had to be written. Go check it out right now on Scott's site if you've never heard of it.
Sarah has had a crush on Ryan for years. He's easy to talk to, supersmart, and totally gets her. Lately it even seems like he's paying extra attention to her. Everything would be perfect except for two things: Ryan is Brianna's boyfriend, and Brianna is Sarah's best friend.
Sarah forces herself to avoid Ryan and tries to convince herself not to like him. She feels so guilty for wanting him, and the last thing she wants is to hurt her best friend. But when she's thrown together with Ryan one night, something happens. It's wonderful...and awful.
Sarah is torn apart by guilt, but what she feels is nothing short of addiction, and she can't stop herself from wanting more...(Summary from author page)
The Unwritten Rule deals with the lines drawn between girls, guys, and their friendships. I think every girl can pretty much understand Sarah's position when she says she loves her best friend's boyfriend. I think they can understand it even more when she holds herself back and does her best to be there for her best friend even at the cost of her own happiness. Where Sarah is loving and kind outwards she is self-loathing and guilt ridden inside. She knows she shouldn't love her best friends boyfriend. She know she should just forget about him.
But then they kiss. And she can't stop remembering that kiss.
"So are you ready to pay attention to me now?" she says, and kisses him. I stare at my history book and then open it. I'm not on the right page, but it doesn't matter. I'm not looking at it. I'm trying not to think about Brianna and Ryan kissing.
I'm trying not to wonder what he was going to say before she came in.
I'm trying not to think about how I know what his mouth feels like.
Tastes like. (pg. 74)
Sarah is a character I can readily understand. I know what if feels like to think of yourself as plain and unattractive, but while this may be what Sarah thinks of herself it doesn't necessarily make it true. She may be very attractive and Sarah and her best friend can't see it. Brianna is so used to all of the attention she gets and boys fawning over her. It may be hard for her to get that Sarah is attractive as well. I think for most readers Sarah will be easy sell.
Brianna, on the other hand, is really a unique element in this story. You are shown right away that even with all of Brianna's easy beauty and ability to find a date she doesn't have an easy life. She is a child of divorce, and a particularly nasty one at that. Her mother doesn't hesitate to say highly unhelpful things about her appearance, weight, and eating habits that only makes her feel badly about herself. Adversely Brianna treats Sarah in a very similar manner with the assumption that she doesn't see this about herself. And Sarah never tells her about it.
Then there is the relationship between Sarah and Ryan, Brianna's boyfriend and Sarah's love interest. With the unwritten rule of girl friends comes the idea that you betraying a fellow friend for (just) a boy. I think that most people, especially teenagers, only see the betrayal. There is the sense of 'How dare you!' as if, in Sarah's case, she could of helped her feelings. The more you read the book the more you will see that Sarah's supposed betrayal was at the end of a relationship that both Brianna and Ryan saw before that first kiss was ever shared between Ryan and Sarah.
I could completely understand Sarah's need to make it all better. She sees what Brianna is going through everyday and all she wants to do is not be someone in Brianna's life that disappoints her. I thought The Unwritten Rule was a really enjoyable book! I think it dealt with a teenage taboo and friendships really well. Scott didn't seem to try and make Brianna an automatic bad guy or Sarah an automatically horrible friend.
Listen to Elizabeth Scott talk about the book. Then check out other readers reviews of this book.
Other Reviews for The Unwritten Rule:
The Story Siren
Good Reads Page
The Book Reader
Abby (the) Librarian