The Six Rules of Maybe
The Six Rules of Maybe
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Annotation: Scarlet, an introverted high school junior surrounded by outcasts who find her a good listener, learns to break old patterns and reach for hope when her pregnant sister moves home with her new husband, with whom Scarlet feels an instant connection.
Catalog Number: #41443
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Inventory Sale Inventory Sale
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition Date: 2010
Pages: 321 pages
Availability: Available (Limited Quantities Available / While Supplies Last)
ISBN: Publisher: 1-416-97971-9 Perma-Bound: 0-605-41243-X
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-416-97971-5 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-41243-9
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2009022232
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Seventeen-year-old Scarlet is used to her older sister, Juliet, getting all the attention. Juliet's the beautiful one who got off Parrish Island, Oregon, and has a job singing in Portland. Then Juliet returns with a new husband, Hayden, and a baby on the way. While Juliet is the kind of girl who's mostly interested in herself, Scarlet finds herself becoming quite interested in Hayden, who is unrequitedly devoted to Juliet. There are familiar elements here, but Caletti executes them exceedingly well. Scarlet's adoration of Hayden is both poignant and realistic, her devotion tempered by hopes and fears for the baby. Juliet's pursuit of an old boyfriend, a bad boy, rings true, especially considering the family history. Still, other elements are over the top, like the subplot about neighbors who seem to have found the one Nigerian e-mailer who wants to make good on a business proposition. Caletti is at her best as she makes the case for the "Rules of Maybe," how to hope, ways to persist, when to give up, and how to go on.
Kirkus Reviews
Analyzing other people's emotions and motivations is Scarlet Ellis's greatest talent. At school, she's close to few but a confidante to all. Her quiet home life consists mostly of taking pictures and involving herself in her neighbors' business. Since childhood she's idolized her older sister, Juliet, who comes home pregnant and married after years of working as a singer. Scarlet forms a strong bond with Juliet's husband, Hayden, and becomes convinced that Juliet is cheating on him with her high-school boyfriend. At the same time, Scarlet finds herself falling for Hayden. Narrator Scarlet is content to tell everyone's story but her own, and as a result, no plot ever really develops beyond her thoughts. Though Scarlet is thoughtful and well read in psychology, many of her observations about other people's relationships come off as melodramatic rather than enlightening. The most interesting story line involves Scarlet's matchmaking of two oddball classmates, a feat that shows off her interpersonal skills. Overall, because of her lack of focus and sense of self, readers may have a hard time sympathizing with her. (Fiction. YA)
Publishers Weekly

When 17-year-old Scarlett's older sister, Juliet, moves back home pregnant, she brings with her a romantic new husband “she'd never before even mentioned.” While Scarlett's feelings for Hayden grow—she secretly reads the love notes he writes to Juliet and sneaks out to join him for late-night chats—he remains devoted to her pretty sister, who in turn seems fixated on her loser high school boyfriend. Caletti's (The Secret Life of Prince Charming) main characters are well drawn and complex, especially mature Scarlett, who, to her own detriment, is constantly looking after everyone else in her life. Readers may find some of Scarlett's neighbors over the top, such as an elderly couple whose belief in Internet scams leads them to Africa. Scarlett's devotion to them also seems extreme, but it clarifies both why “being needed sometimes made me feel good” and why she feels connected to kind Hayden. In the end, readers will be willing to overlook some of the more outlandish characters to focus on the moving story involving Scarlett and her family. Ages 12–up. (Mar.)

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up Caletti invites readers into Scarlet Hughes's life and all its "maybes." The introspective teen copes when her charismatic older sister, Juliet, shows up suddenly married (and pregnant) after time away at a Portland hotel singing gig. Both Scarlet and her mother quickly come to adore her husbandScarlet perhaps a little too much. Hayden is not only smart and good-looking, but he is also funny, great at listening, and deeply in love with Juliet. He writes her poetry and love notes, which Scarlet cannot help but read. She also can't seem to stop trying to help her motley collection of neighbors. The elderly couple too easily conned by Internet scams, the Goth girl whose chalk drawings inspire some prom date interference, and the retired postal worker who is flirting with senility are all part of Scarlet's habit of trying to fix things. Maybe she can stop her sister's tendency to run scared of the commitment Hayden offers her and her yearning for her train wreck of an old boyfriend. Maybe she can convince her mother that she shouldn't marry someone who spends all his time criticizing her. Maybe she can make up with the friend whose crush seems to like Scarlet instead. All of these dealings are about hope as the fuel of one's dreams and efforts, about the frequent necessity of persistence, and about how to know when to let go. Reminiscent of the best of Sarah Dessen's work, this novel is beautifully written, deftly plotted, and movingly characterized. Suzanne Gordon, Peachtree Ridge High School, Suwanee, GA
Word Count: 89,719
Reading Level: 5.0
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.0 / points: 13.0 / quiz: 136964 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.4 / points:21.0 / quiz:Q48360
Lexile: 820L
Chapter One

You could tell something was different about Juliet the moment she stepped out of that truck. She was wearing a yellow summer dress and her hair was pulled back so that you could see her cheekbones and her straight nose and the blazing eyes that used to make all the boys crazy in high school. I don’t know how to explain it, but she seemed smug in some way I’d never seen before. Like she had this satisfying little secret. Like something had been decided by her and her alone. She held her head as if she were the period at the end of her own sentence.

We knew Juliet was coming home; we just didn’t know she’d be bringing someone else with her, or several someone elses, depending on how you counted. Hayden’s dog, Zeus—he was one of those people-like dogs; he listened hard and looked at you with knowing in his eyes, even if two minutes later he’d decide to zip around the living room, slightly crazed, ears pinned back, taking the corners around the furniture like he was in his own private race with lesser dogs.

When the truck door slammed outside, Mom looked out the window and gave a little It’s her! squeal and we hurried outside. The afternoon was just right warm—a May day that could have been a role model for all May days, and the air smelled wet and grassy because Mrs. Saint George across the street had turned her sprinkler on. The truck was one of those old kinds with the big wide front that could slam into a tree and still come out smiling its chrome smile. Juliet stepped out and she was all sunbeams in that dress. She was wet grass, and summer, and sunbeams, same as that day was. The thing about sunbeams, though … Well, it might sound unkind. You’ve got to know that I loved my sister very much even if our relationship was complicated (and, anyway, aren’t love and complications basically words partnered forever, like salt and pepper and husband and wife?). But a straight shot of sun directed at a mirror can set things on fire. Juliet and I had learned this ourselves when we were kids one August day on the sidewalk in front of our house. When I was seven (and, honestly, nine and twelve and fourteen), I’d have held that mirror toward the sun for days even if nothing had happened, just because she’d told me to.

Mom ran across the lawn to hug Juliet like she hadn’t seen her in years even though it had only been five months since she’d been home last, three since Mom and I had gone down to Portland, Oregon, where Juliet had gotten her big break singing four nights a week at the Fireside Room at the Grosvenor Hotel. When you saw her onstage in that sapphire gown, her head tilted back to show her long throat, smoke from some man’s cigarette circling around her like a thin wisp of fog in some old detective movie, you’d never have thought she’d come from tiny Parrish Island. Tiny and inconsequential Parrish Island, where the only important visitors were the pods of Orca whales that came every summer. You’d never have thought Juliet was a regular girl who had graduated from Parrish Island High School only the year before. Barely graduated, I might add, almost flunking Algebra II had it not been for the tutoring of her younger sister, thank you, although Mom would say Juliet had never been a regular girl.

The driver’s side door opened, and that’s when Hayden got out. I thought he was having a nice stretch before he got back in and went home, a friend doing a friend-favor, maybe. He was about twenty-three or -four, tall, with easy, tousled brown hair. He wore Levi’s with a tucked-in white T-shirt, and his jeans had a big wet spot on the leg, spilled coffee was my guess, which he was blotting with napkins.

And then he looked up at us. Or at me, because Mom didn’t even notice him. Usually I was the invisible one in any group, but he was invisible along with me then. Mom was clutching Juliet to her and then holding her away again so that Juliet’s fiery eyes could meet Mom’s blazing ones. So his eyes met only mine, and mine his, and right then my heart shifted, the way it does when something unexpected begins. There are those moments, probably few in a life, where before and after split off from each other forevermore in your mind. That was one of those moments, although I wouldn’t realize it for a long time afterward. I saw something very simple and clear there, in his eyes—that was the thing. Honesty. But with the kind of hope that was just this side of heartbreak.

He smiled at me, went around to the back of the truck. I guess anyone would have noticed the way he looked in those jeans. Of course I did. In the open pickup bed there was a big dog waiting to be let out. He was the sort of large, energetic dog that made Mom nervous. A sudden dog, and Mom didn’t like sudden things. She mistrusted squirrels and birds and men and anything that had the capacity to surprise. If she ever got a dog, she’d say, it was going to be one of those white and fluffy ones, like Ginger, the Martinellis’ dog, who looked the same as the slippers Mrs. Martinelli wore when she went to get the mail. You could put a dog like that into your purse like a lipstick and take it anywhere you wanted it to go, like women did in New York or Paris. A lipstick with a heartbeat that might pee on your checkbook, in my opinion, but this was Mom’s dream, not mine. I liked a dog you could lean against.

The dog jumped down and made a galloping leap toward Mom, and the guy in the Levi’s lunged for his collar and said, “Zeus!” in a way that was both emphatic and desperate. Zeus, it would turn out, was actually a very well-trained dog—he’d do anything for Hayden. Zeus would look at Hayden in the complete and adoring way you privately wished and wished and wished that someone, someday, might look at you. But Hayden was a good dog father and knew his boy’s limits—meeting new people turned Zeus into a toddler in the toy aisle, with the kind of joy and want that turned into manic jumping. Zeus leaped up on Mom, who was horrified to be suddenly looking at him eye to eye, and she held him off with a palm to his tan furry chest. She looked down at her clothes as if he might have made her muddy, although the ground was dry and she was only in her old cargo pants and a tank top, her hair in a sort-of bun stuck up with a pair of chopsticks.

It was then that Mom realized that Juliet had not descended alone from the heavens. She looked surprised at the unexpected visitors and the facts in front of her: this truck, not Juliet’s ancient Fiat convertible; this lanky, excited dog; this lanky, somewhat tousled and tangled guy grabbing his collar …

And that’s when we saw it. We both did, at the same moment. It caught the sun, so shiny and new was the gold. A wedding band. On the guy’s finger. We both did the same thing next, Mom and me. We looked at Juliet’s left hand. And, yes, there was one there, too. That same gold band.

My mother put her hand to her chest. I heard her gasp. And then she breathed out those two words, the ones I was feeling right then too, that multipurpose, universal expression of shock and despair.

“Oh fuck,” my mother said.

© 2010 Deb Caletti



Excerpted from The Six Rules of Maybe by Deb Caletti
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Scarlet considers herself someone who fixes other people’s problems…until she becomes one when she falls in love with her sister’s husband in this beautiful young adult novel about love and family from National Book Award finalist and Printz Honor medal winner Deb Caletti.

Scarlet spends most of her time worrying about other people. Some are her friends, others are practically strangers, and then there are the ones no else even notices. Trying to fix their lives comes naturally to her. And pushing her own needs to the side is part of the deal. So when her older sister comes home unexpectedly married and pregnant, Scarlet has a new person to worry about.

But all of her good intentions are shattered when the unthinkable happens: she falls for her sister’s husband. For the first time in a long time, Scarlet’s not fixing a problem, she’s at the center of one. And ignoring her feelings doesn’t seem to be an option…


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