“I was Hannah Cohen. I had everything and knew everything and could do everything.”
Hannah is sixteen and raised to follow her mother’s rules of self-preservation, including: Always have the upper hand; Never let yourself be surprised; and, If reality isn’t the way you want it to be, create your own. Obviously she’s a lot of fun. When her father overdoses on pills and goes to rehab, Hannah’s mother runs away to Paris to avoid scandal and Hannah moves in with her aunt to avoid her mother.
This is more a coming-of-age story than it is a romance, because Hannah learns how to face reality even when it terrifies her, trust people, and take responsibility for her own mistakes. There is a boy, though, helping her with all of this growth. Jude is a high school graduate whose brother died in Afghanistan. Jude hasn’t been able to move past his brother’s death, but he finds Hannah to be a welcome diversion from the non-life that he’s barely living.
Hannah and Jude hang out, drive around town, and have awkward social encounters with other people. Jude encourages Hannah to climb Chimney Rock even though she’s afraid of heights (metaphor alert!). They are “just friends” until one afternoon in Jude’s truck, when he says, “I know this person sitting right here, and she matters.” They kiss, I’m happy, and then his mother interrupts them and ruins everything. Hannah remembers that she’s not supposed to trust anyone so she forces Jude back into the friendship zone, where he stays for pretty much the rest of the book.
This book is Hannah’s emotional journey. She makes up with her dad. She confronts her mom. She dumps her shallow friends and reconnects with ex-friends. Jude is there, as a friend, but the story is more about Hannah becoming Hannah than it is about her falling in love. I, of course, must quibble with that because I love reading stories about teens falling in love, but when there’s so much personal growth involved it takes time away from the romance. I’m superficial that way.
Having said that, both characters are interesting, the setting is beautiful, and if you need some help with your own personal growth, this book will have some good advice for you.
*ARC provided author via NetGalley
The Rules of You and Meby Shana NorrisRelease Date: June 17, 2013