by Ashley Elston
Age Range: 12 and up
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (May 14, 2013)
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She's been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she's been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.
Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they've given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do-or see-that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all of the Suits' rules-and her dad's silence. If he won't help, it's time she got some answers for herself.
But Meg isn't counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who's too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there's only one rule that really matters-survival.
Meg’s life pretty much sucks. She sorta has her family, but they are falling apart at the seams- her mom has officially become an alcoholic, her little sister withdrawn, and her dad is stressed beyond belief. They were woken up in the middle of the night, given new identities (again), and dropped in a small Southern town with pretty much nothing.
The goal of Meg’s life is to disappear. Her family is in witness protection. She hates how it is destroying them, and she is sick of not knowing why.
It sounds like this story is going to be pretty good, right? Well, I totally thought it was, inhaling it like banana chocolate chip bread (I really like that stuff- it goes about as fast as this book did).
First, the characters were pretty cool. Meg is a strong character, although she doesn’t kick-butt (after all, she doesn’t know whose butt to kick for most of the book), she has this edge of determination and a fierce protective streak for her sister. You find out that she was totally part of the popular crowd, and essentially went from being at the top of the food chain, to finding herself at the bottom. That ability to survive really made me respect her and feel for her. Sometimes she is a little misguided, doesn’t always connect the dots, and sometimes just psychologically blinds herself from the truth. Sometimes I wish she would just speak up when she feels freaked out, but I guess she has had reason to keep silent.
Creatively, every chapter starts with her rules to keep herself and her family protected. Rules that she usually fails miserably at following this time around. You get to hear a lot of the backstory of her life in witness protection, so you really get a feel for her life. Reading this book made me really wonder what witness protection is actually like- how much of this is real and how much is fiction.
Meg’s little sister and her employer, Pearl both rock. They are great characters, but everyone else was just so-so to me.
Excluding Ethan. Ethan is marvelous. He is a small town (maybe even a redneck) dream boy. I actually never thought I would ever combine the words “redneck” with “dream boy,” but don’t worry, as soon as you read The Rules for Disappearing you will be in love with this kid too. He is sweet, kind, gracious, steady, protective, smart, and I am pretty sure he is hot, even if he is covered in mud from working on his farm sometimes. Probably best of all, he will not give up like he should when Meg treats him like crap.
And Meg does treat Ethan and everyone else like crap. She is working her butt off to stay anonymous and out of trouble, which also means she thinks she has to keep herself friendless. She has a pretty legit reason, too, as otherwise witness protection will again move her barely-hanging-on-by-a-thread-family, but this time out of society altogether. I found this fascinating because I am both a people pleaser and someone who loves being in community. I don’t see how I could ever push people away even if I was trying to because I had to protect my family.
So, pretty much this is the main chunk of the story- Meg is pushing people away, trying to protect her family while coping in this new small town. And Ethan tries to break down her defenses and unravel her mysteries. All the while, she is trying to piece together what threw her family into witness protection in the first place. And as she does, it brings together the dangerous loose ends of a crime that happened almost a year ago.
Then, Meg has a choice whether she is going to face it and fix it, or go deeper into hiding. And, as we all know that if she goes deeper into hiding, the story would suck and it wouldn’t be book-worthy. So instead, Ethan and Meg go off on a crazy stupid adventure that we can only hope turns out okay.
The Rules for Disappearing has romance, it has mystery, and a little bit of action. I think they could have added a little more tension or variation, but even so I really liked it. I have never read a book about someone in witness protection and it totally fit the bill for a fresh quality mystery/intrigue novel. It wasn’t dark or depressing, it was engaging, and clean. Altogether, I allowed myself to be sucked into it, so if you are interested, I totally recommend it!
Underage drinking, light kissing, and a little violence. I don’t think it had bad language in it. But sadly, I don’t actually remember. I did, though, file it in my brain as “a pretty clean read” and I can’t find anything online to prove this label wrong. Comment below if you discover stuff we should know about!
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