Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin

What are the rules? How to survive living with Mom.

A story set up in the form of a letter, older brother Matthew writes to tell his baby sister, Emmy, what to do and what not to do to remain under the radar of their mother, Nikki, a bipolar and, at times, psychotic narcissist who terrorizes her three kids. One day, Matt meets Murdoch, a tough yet kindly protector of children who seems like the perfect savior.

Desperate to help his two sisters and himself, Matt obsesses over Murdoch as his family’s only salvation. But what if Murdoch is no match for Nikki, a mom who makes Mommie Dearest look downright nurturing?

Told with straightforward, real-feeling drama by Werlin, this is a fantastic story about the lengths someone might go to save himself and those he loves.

Teens at my school had discovered Werlin’s Impossible, when – at a loss of what to recommend for a rabid reader – I pulled this one off of the shelf. She came back the next day, held the book out, and said, “Oh, my God. Ms. Scribner. This book” -- high praise from a jaded bookworm.

Bibliotherepeutic value: While the situation is terrifying, Matt’s well-thought-out survival tactics are encouraging. A story about staying strong, being smart, and asking for help.

Werlin, Nancy. The Rules of Survival. New York: Speak, 2008.

ISBN: 0142410713. $7.99.

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