Friday, July 17, 2020
Rules for Being a Girl, by Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotugno
At first, both of them try to ignore the incident, but as he starts retaliating against her in class, she decides in the end to make a public complaint. The results are devastating as the school administration circles the wagons, the student body turns against her, and suddenly her future looks to be in jeopardy. But refusing to step down, Marin fights for her dreams and her future, taking on the school and its entrenched prejudices.
Being a well-manufactured product of Allow Entertainment, this is slick storytelling and the story and its resolution is superbly satisfying. Surprisingly, it is also a disjointed mess in a way that only writing-by-committee can achieve. There's a second theme to the novel -- Marin's awakening as a feminist -- demonstrated through her founding of a feminist book club at school with the help of another sympathetic teacher. This would seem like a good complement to the #metoo story, as a bunch of highschoolers discover Audre Lorde and achieve enlightenment, but instead it breaks down into long discussions about POCs and other tensions between liberal and radical feminism that the average reader is going to glaze over. It never ends up having relevance to the story. And as for the eponymous rules, while they are striking and make a great back cover, they aren't really more than a tease, fitting into neither thread.