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Wild Awake
Hilary T. Smith
Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera
Bryan Peterson
The Unwritten Rule - Elizabeth Scott 2.5 stars Without a doubt, Elizabeth Scott has a beautifully honed voice for young adult literature. She writes both accessibly and perceptively about the teenage experience and its accompanying emotions. It’s an unembellished, authentic style that neither sensationalises nor talks down to young adult issues. The Unwritten Rule is no exception, clearly capturing the straightforward, yet earnest voice of Sarah, in the midst of an “I like my best friend’s boyfriend” situation. Not to mince matters, yes, this book contains a love triangle of sorts, and cheating. However, I feel it would be doing Scott a disservice to reduce this book down to merely its romantic aspects. Obviously, the feelings Sarah harbours for Ryan, her best friend’s boyfriend, take up a large part of the narration, as she navigates the dilemma of wanting what she can’t have. There is a lot of inner dialogue as Sarah examines and turns over her secret feelings, and ruminates over her guilt and pent up anger. Beyond this, however, Scott examines the nature and effects of a toxic friendship. The dynamic between Sarah and Brianna is subtly drawn - Scott uses her light touch here effectively – and this is a much more nuanced portrayal of a destructive friendship than is often found in two-tone mean-girl storylines. The antagonism in this situation is much more veiled and complicated. Sad to say, but I found the kind of undermining behaviour exhibited by Brianna, and likewise Sarah’s passivity, to be all too familiar.At its heart, I can’t help but feel that this is more a story about understanding the true nature of a friendship, as opposed to a love story (although that definitely features heavily). It’s a well-articulated deconstruction of the complicated relationship between two girls, the reasons for the way they treat each other, and why it’s so hard to let go. Although I’m a fan of Scott’s writing, and her undemonstrative endings (there are no hugely shocking scenes, or dramatic twists), I found the plot in The Unwritten Rule rather too slight to be entirely taken with the book. It’s a very genuine insight into Sarah’s conflicted thoughts, and the kind of book I would have adored in my teens, but at this stage in my life, I found it a little wanting and not wholly compelling.