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The Six Rules of Maybe

Review

The Six Rules of Maybe

To their mother's ambitious-for-her-daughter disappointment, Scarlet's older sister Juliet abandons her career as a singer to come back home. Scarlet has mixed feelings about the return of the prodigal daughter. At home, their single mother is generally loving, but she has always placed most of her attention on charismatic, gorgeous, sociable, unreliable Juliet --- often leaving quiet, contemplative Scarlet to brood on her own.

Scarlet's feelings are further complicated when it turns out that Juliet is pregnant, and she has in tow an absolutely adorable husband named Hayden. While Juliet is dismissive of Hayden and takes his love for granted, Scarlet essentially falls head over heels for him, drinking in his humor, his dog Zeus, his manly wrists, and his incredible decency --- along with his considerable good looks. When Scarlet sneaks peeks at the love notes and romantic poetry Hayden leaves for his careless wife, she aches with envy.

Scarlet is a funny and sympathetic main character who defends introversion as "an alternate lifestyle that gets less respect than any other alternate lifestyle." She specializes in being nice, reading psychology textbooks to gain insight into what others are lacking in their lives, and then trying to fill that gap for them. Scarlet is the listener and advisor for her friends. She goes out of the way to treat the truly strange people in her world with loving kindness. For example, she leaves her Goth artist neighbor, who creates sidewalk art featuring a telling meld of her family with vampires, notes praising her talent. Scarlet also tries to keep her gullible elderly neighbors from being sucked in by an Internet scam and hopes to protect another neighbor suffering the beginnings of dementia.

And yet Scarlet would be the first to admit that she is far from perfect. She detests her mother's boyfriend, the priggish Dean. She tries to dodge her own high school admirer/stalker, repugnant Reilly Ogden, who is such a sad case that Scarlet can't bring herself to be blunt about her wish to be left alone. Scarlet is also an accomplished liar even about minor things, such as telling people she had her hair styled by a professional when she actually just hacked it off with the kitchen shears.

Now, Scarlet finds herself in a nearly unbearable conundrum. She wonders about her new niece or nephew, nicknamed "Jitter" by Hayden. Scarlet knows Hayden will be a loving, attentive father, but she has doubts about her sister's ability to selflessly parent. She is terribly torn because she really wants Hayden and Jitter for herself, and yet she loves Hayden enough to want for him what will make him happy --- which happens to be Juliet. Scarlet knows her romantic dreams about Hayden are impossible, even as she and her new brother-in-law form a close friendship.

Author Deb Caletti has yet to make a misstep, and this book is a shining example of her talent. The characters, in all their quirky and human glory, could walk right off the pages. The plot is compelling and beautifully paced, interwoven with several intriguing subplots. In this exquisite tale of romance, hope, tragedy and humor, we find gem-like and truly moving bits of hard-won wisdom as Scarlet yearns for the impossible --- and finds much more than she ever could have imagined.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on March 16, 2010

The Six Rules of Maybe
by Deb Caletti

  • Publication Date: March 22, 2011
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • ISBN-10: 1416979719
  • ISBN-13: 9781416979715