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The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin

The Rules of Survival (2006)

by Nancy Werlin

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Another great audio book. I love using my time wisely. ( )
  whybehave2002 | Feb 4, 2015 |
Another great audio book. I love using my time wisely. ( )
  whybehave2002 | Feb 4, 2015 |
From Sept 2006 SLJ:
Nancy Werlin’s latest novel tackles the topic of child abuse with grace and insight. Narrated by seventeen-year-old Matt as a letter to his youngest sister Emmy, The Rules of Survival is his effort to come to terms with the vicious treatment they suffered at the hands of Nikki, their beautiful and unpredictable mother. One of Matt’s early memories involves getting up during the night to sneak a cookie back to bed and being caught by his mother. Giggling and yelling “Cookie thief,” she holds a knife to his throat, cutting him just a little bit to teach him not to steal. As much as he fears his mother’s manic highs and lows, his greater concern as he grows older is for the safety of his sisters. He and his sister Callie shield Emmy as much as possible from Nikki’s volatile moods. Compounding the problem are the adults in their lives—their father and their aunt—who recognize Nikki’s instability but find it easier to look the other way. When Nikki’s ex-boyfriend Murdoch befriends the children, they want to believe that a more normal future is possible, but are afraid of being disappointed by an adult yet again. The story’s characters captivate readers from the beginning, and short, terse chapters move the plot along with an intensity that will appeal to seasoned Werlin fans and reluctant readers alike. As with Speak (Laurie Halse Anderson, 1999) and other recent novels that explore difficult issues, teens will empathize with these siblings and the secrets they keep. ( )
  KimJD | Apr 8, 2013 |
Listened to the audiobook; narrator did a good job because he matched the attitude and emotion of the characters. Matthew and his younger sisters try to survive the abusive actions of their mother. They come across a man named Murdoch who seems to have pity for children when he defends a young boy in a convenience store against his raging father. Matthew decides to seek Murdoch's help to get him and his sisters away from his mentally unstable mother. Story of a dysfunctional family and the detrimental effects abuse can have on children. Excellent novel, would highly recommend! ( )
  Jennanana | May 2, 2012 |
Matt and his sisters, Callie and Emmy, are always starring in a play directed by fear. Just one small wrong move can set their mother Nikki off, and lead to the most dangerous of circumstances. She has no qualms about leaving her young family to fend for themselves most nights in South Boston, and that's the best case scenario. When Nikki chooses to lavish her presence upon her three children, they can almost count on terrors like finding a kitchen knife pressed to their throats, being beaten with a bag of seafood, or even taking a terrifying detour into oncoming traffic if they can't placate their mercurial mother. Despite having a father who is still involved in their lives in small ways and an aunt who lives in the downstairs apartment, nobody steps in to protect Matt, Callie, and Emmy until a stranger named Murdoch McIlvane enters their lives one unexpected night at the Cumberland Farms store. It is then that Matt begins to dream that things won't be like this forever, that he begins to believe that life could be more than living in fear of his mother.

Matt, the eldest at fifteen, is the story's narrator, and a good one at that. Matt knows what it is to live in fear and to want to escape, but he knows he can't leave without his two sisters who he will protect at any cost. Despite the odds, though, Matt still hasn't given up hope that their dangerous circumstances could change, that their father could man up even though he's almost as terrified of unstable Nikki as the kids are or that Aunt Bobbie could step in when she hears the commotion upstairs. It's this outside hope and other reasons that even Matt can't give voice to, that he searches for an ally in Murdoch, and finds one. Matt, with all his hopes and the fear that encroaches upon them, is the perfect window into the lives of abused kids. Werlin uses his narration to great effect, giving us a sense of just how easily and random it was to attract Nikki's senseless rage and how it's lurking at the edge of even the most trivial encounter.

The Rules of Survival is a page-turner of a book that will catch readers up in its twists and turns. It's a frighteningly realistic portrayal of abuse, how easy it is for kids to be trapped by it when adults that should care do nothing. Matt, Callie, and Emmy's story is ultimately one of change and of redemption, but it's one that makes you wonder and worry all the kids for whom it's not. ( )
  yourotherleft | Mar 31, 2012 |
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This book is for all the survivors. Always remember: The survivor gets to tell the story.
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Dear Emmy, As I write this, you are nine years old, too young to be told the full and true story of our family's past, let alone be exposed to my philosophizing about what it all meant.
"The events we lived through taught me to be sure of nothing about other people. They taught me to expect danger around every corner. They taught me to understand that there are people in this world who mean you harm. And sometimes, they're people who say they love you." Matthew to Emmy
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142410713, Paperback)

For Matt and his sisters, life with their cruel, vicious mother is a day-to-day struggle for survival. But then Matt witnesses Murdoch coming to a child?s rescue in a convenience store, and for the first time, he feels a glimmer of hope. When, amazingly, Murdoch begins dating Matt?s mother, life is suddenly almost good. But the relief lasts only a short time. When Murdoch inevitably breaks up with their mother, Matt knows he needs to take action. But can he call upon his hero? Or will he have to take measures into his own hands? A heart-wrenching portrait of a family in crisis, this is Nancy Werlin?s most compulsively readable novel yet.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:01 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Seventeen-year-old Matthew recounts his attempts, starting at a young age, to free himself and his sisters from the grip of their emotionally and physically abusive mother.

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