by Nancy Werlin
Matthew's used to protecting his sisters from their erratic mother But constantly reading her moods and keeping everyone playing their parts so that their mother won't go off the deep end is no job for a 13 year old. So when Matthew sees Murdoch stepping between a father about to hit his son in a grocery store, he sees a man who might be able to help his sisters and him escape their mother. But the problem with trying to escape a mother who can't be trusted to act sane is you never know what she is really capable of.
Written from Matthew's perspective as a letter to his youngest sister explaining what happened in their childhood, Rules of Survival is a gripping novel that makes you want to know what happens next to this family. Matthew is a likable character, a boy who is trying to protect his family but realizes he can't do it on his own. He has his flaws which show him for the boy he still is, even though he is trying to be the 'man of the house for his family. The book demonstrates the absolute havoc that can be wrecked upon a family by untreated mental illness and the necessity of banding together in such a situation. A good read for older tweens especially.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age Level: 8th Grade