Kirkus Reviews QR Code
SARAH SIMPSON’S RULES FOR LIVING by Rebecca Rupp

SARAH SIMPSON’S RULES FOR LIVING

By Rebecca Rupp

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3220-5
Publisher: Candlewick

Twelve-year-old Sarah Simpson joins a long list of modern-day tweens buried under negative feelings about their parents’ recent divorce, feeling jilted by a father who has moved across the country with his new young wife. Encouraged to keep a journal, Sarah’s immediate self-description—“I have orange hair and I am fat”—introduces her poor self-image and feelings of rejection as she tries to follow her own “Rules,” which include drinking skim milk and avoiding blondes. Sarah’s unhappiness is displayed through her deadpan, stilted account of life creating numerous lists of cynical and gloomy statements. Themes of inner vs. outer beauty are paralleled with Sarah’s mother’s easy acceptance of her broken marriage remedied by her new and happy relationship with relaxed, environmentally conscious and slightly overweight Jonah. Minor characters include five-year-old George (Jonah’s son) and geeky classmate Horace Zimmerman, who bring balance to Sarah’s self-centered feelings of betrayal by both parents. Despite the short, unadorned, flat writing style, Rupp manages to develop her themes and character with enough emotional integrity to underscore the overall message that personal attitude can ultimately control the way we accept inevitable change in our lives. A quick read in the over-used diary-style middle-grade fiction with expanded potential for a series or even family discussion. (Fiction. 9-12)