Title: Rules For 50/50 Chances
Author: Kate McGovern
Release Date: November 4th, 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source: Local Library
Genre: Realistic Fiction (14+)
Goodreads Synopsis: A heartrending but ultimately uplifting debut novel about learning to accept life’s uncertainties; a perfect fit for the current trend in contemporary realistic novels that confront issues about life, death, and love.
Seventeen-year-old Rose Levenson has a decision to make: Does she want to know how she’s going to die? Because when Rose turns eighteen, she can take the test that tells her if she carries the genetic mutation for Huntington’s disease, the degenerative condition that is slowly killing her mother.
With a fifty-fifty shot at inheriting her family’s genetic curse, Rose is skeptical about pursuing anything that presumes she’ll live to be a healthy adult-including her dream career in ballet and the possibility of falling in love. But when she meets a boy from a similarly flawed genetic pool and gets an audition for a dance scholarship across the country, Rose begins to question her carefully laid rules.
Review: Rules For 50/50 Chances was an eye opening read about what it’s like to live with a family member who has a very rare yet extremely debilitating illness, and the fear that comes along with knowing that you could possibly inherit it yourself.
Rose’s mothers illness has taken a toll on her entire family-and rather than her mom taking care of her, Rose has to instead take care of her mom, and the reversal of roles has put a definite strain on their relationship in the last 3 or so years since her diagnosis of Huntington’s.
It was obvious how frustrating and difficult it was for Rose to remain patient with someone who had very little control over her motor skills-she sometimes said inappropriate things at inappropriate times, was increasingly moody every day-snapping at everyone for everything even as they tried to help-and some days she could barely lift a spoon to her mouth.
Having to watch her mothers mind slowly deteriorate has Rose feeling pessimistic about the future. With a 50% chance of developing the disease herself, is it even worth it to pursue a career in ballet? Ballet is the only thing she’s ever dreamed of doing, but she knows that if she does have Huntington’s, her dream will be short lived, and she already dreads the loss of being able to dance and move, of having control over her body. She becomes paranoid, seeing possible symptoms of the disease in every part of her life-every time she trips, she wonders if she’s simply clumsy, or if it’s an indication as to what’s to come. The unanswered questions drive her to seek answers, no matter the possibility of negative consequences.
Despite warnings from friends and family, Rose decides to take the test the find out whether or not she carries the gene, as soon as she turns eighteen. She struggles with this decision throughout the book-is it best to know now how her life will turn out? Or is it better to keep on living her life without worrying about the future?
As she struggles with her anxiety regarding the future, she finds herself falling for a boy she meets at a charity walk for rare diseases. With a mother and sisters suffering from Sickle Cell, Caleb knows some of what she’s going through. Although she’s determined not to fall in love and possibly burden someone with a life of taking care of someone with a debilitating illness, she finds herself imaging a future with Caleb despite all her efforts to keep him from getting too close. He was persistent, and as their friendship turned into something more, Rose began to open up to him more and more.
Although not exploding in passion, their romance is sweet and realistic, as both of their family situations led to uncertainty and doubt as to whether or not the baggage they both carried was worth pursuing a relationship. I was also satisfied with the fact that this story contained an interracial love story, because diversity is something that can be very hard to find. It brought up a lot on the topic of racial discrimination and the advantages of white privilege.
Rose’s obsession with worrying over the future begins to negatively impact her relationships as she pushes people away, letting fear cloud her common sense. Is everyone right in trying to keep her from making such a permanent life-altering decision regarding her future?
Overall, a very honest read, and I promise it’s not as dark as it may sound, it was relatively light-hearted and heart-warming as well.
It was a bit slow at times, Rose seemed to get lost in her own head a lot and sometimes she was frustratingly negative, but this story is still definitely worth reading. Let me know if you enjoyed it as well!
Rating: 4 Stars