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Rules for 50/50 Chances

Rules for 50/50 Chances Book Cover Rules for 50/50 Chances
Kate McGovern
Macmillan Children's Publishing Group
November 24, 2015

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.



I don’t think I’ve ever been as conflicted about a book as I am about “Rules for 50/50 Chances”.  It is a solid 3 1/2 but can’t be rounded up to a 4.

The protagonist, Rose, is a ballerina with a mother who is suffering with Huntington’s disease.  While I don’t know anyone with Huntington’s and therefore not speaking from experience, I believe the author did a good job of conveying the challenges and emotions it presents to an average family.  One of the strongest points of the book is how well-developed the family dynamics are, with each member of the family seeming so real it’s like you know them.  I especially enjoyed the family trait of being train buffs, which ultimately led to the reasons why trains are awesome.  (Spoiler alert: Trains really are awesome.)

There is also quite a bit of diversity in the book.  Caleb, the main male character, is african-american, while Rose’s best friend, Lena, is asian-american.  Rose herself is part Jewish.  The differences in culture, as well as the differences in the diseases that run in their families, are explored and not ignored as some books tend to do.

That being said, I had two major issues when reading this book.  The first is that Rose and Caleb are both somewhat unlikable and judgmental toward each other.  In fact, Rose is generally unlikable in almost all of her interactions.  While some of it is pointed out, so obviously done purposefully, her irritation level went off the charts for me.  Also, I cannot see those two ever developing an actual healthy relationship.  The second problem is that it was just too long.  Some of it could have been cut and the plot would have run quite a bit more smoothly.  As it was I found myself having to force myself to keep reading some parts.

“Rules for 50/50 Chances” is by no means a bad book, and it brings up many important issues and diseases.  It’s a good contemporary read for both young  and old adults  who have a bit of patience for the slow parts and the character flaws.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.


Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations