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Stuff for the Teen Age
The Six Rules of Maybe: A Review
For a librarian, discovering a great new book is a definite perk of the job. Every once in awhile -- not often, mind you -- I find a book that sends a tingle up my spine. A book that makes me sit back and go, "Wow". A book where the caliber and honesty of the writing, and the truth of the characters pull you out of yourself and bring you a better understanding of who you are. A book from the recent past that did that (and still does) for me is "The Truth About Forever" by Sarah Dessen. Recently, I discovered that same shiver of self-discovery with "The Six Rules of Maybe," a new book by Deb Caletti.
The Six Rules of Maybe tells the story of 16 year old Scarlet, who lives on a remote island in the Puget Sound, not far from Seattle, Washington, with her single mom. Scarlet spends most of her time helping others with their problems, because its easier than helping herself. One day, her flaky older sister turns up on the doorstep pregnant, with her new husband, Hayden, in tow. Scarlet feels an instant connection to Hayden. It shatters her stagnant world and changes how she views herself forever.
From the first chapter, I was struck by Scarlet's voice and how honest and true it was. There were so many moments where I stopped, re-read the paragraph and went, "Oh, my goodness! Thats me!" Scarlet is a girl who has friends but also enjoys being alone. "In our society," she says, "introversion is an alternate lifestyle....Introversion is distrusted - it makes people nervous." Which is so true! Who hasn't felt like a loser for wanting to stay home on Friday night because thats how society deems it. She's also a liar because it is simpler than telling the truth. "...Lying evened things out. [It] smoothed the rocky spaces between people...It kept things simple and running smoothly, even if that meant you held hard to your own secrets." There is so much truth and beauty in Scarlet's words that Caletti has not only gotten to the heart of Scarlet's vulnerabilities, but the rest of ours as well.
Hayden's arrival shakes Scarlet's world to the core. He's her brother-in-law, let's remember, and the feelings she has for him are forbidden. At first, she calls it infatuation. The connection they have, the ease of their flirtatious conversations and the way he understands her make her feelings grow. It doesn't help that she finds beautiful love letters he writes to her seemingly aloof sister. It's in one of these letters that she finds his " Six Rules of Maybe". He uses "maybe" as another word for hope. They are about the power of possibility and persistence, of letting people in and, if necessary, learning to let them go to begin again.
It would be easy to say that with such a premise, Scarlet won't get her happy ending. Maybe, though, she'll get the one she needs and not the one she wishes for late at night. Hayden's six rules may not lead Scarlet to him, but they do offer her a path to her family, friends and neighbors. It is not an easy lesson to trust and open your heart. Caletti has written a novel that illustrates this -- its complications and its rewards. Scarlet, the lessons, the Rules, and the meaning they bring to your own life stay with you long after the book has been closed.
This may be the best Deb Caletti book yet. You will not regret checking it out.