THE RULES OF SURVIVAL, by Nancy Werlin (2006)
AR Level: 4.3 Points: 8
Interest Level: Upper Grades
Audiobook Available in HS Library
This is a truly powerful book. It opens with a letter from Matthew to Emmy, his baby sister. He tells her that he’s going to write down the details of their childhood to help her understand what they went through at the hands of their abusive mother, Nikki. The book chronicles the experiences of Matthew and his two younger sisters, Callie and Emmy as they try to deal with the emotional and sometimes drug-fueled mood swings of their mom. She swings like a pendulum from manic highs to depressive lows—and in all of her moods; her kids are the ones who suffer. The book climaxes when, after losing custody, their mom kidnaps Emmy and takes her to a trailer in the Boston dockyard. Matthew rescues her with the help of Murdoch, who is an ex-boyfriend of Nikki’s. The book ends with another letter to Emmy, in which Matthew tells her he realizes that he actually wrote the book for himself, to figure out who he was, and what his experiences with Nikki had done to him.