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This story, THE RULES DO NOT APPLY, with all the heartache, pain and recognition perfectly captures why most of us play by the rules.
I found the author incredibly relatable despite the fact that we had few shared experiences. I highly recommend this book.
Levy's memoir focuses on her miscarriage, her divorce to her wife who suffers from alcoholism, and her general confusion as to what next steps she should take in her personal life. I think Levy is a talented writer. I enjoyed the first third of the book most (especially learning about her career and making it on her own). However, towards the second half, I questioned the purpose of this book. I come to memoirs for bigger messages. I know life is not easy and can't be tied narratively into neat bows, but I think this book lacked a direction and a message. I actually didn't mind all the regrettable decisions she made, but I did mind how often she placed blame on others instead of analyzing her own bad decisions. This would've been a way more interesting memoir if we went more in-depth on why we make regrettable decisions and how do we change? I wish I learned more reading this, but I also understand how memoirs can be an emotional release. I hope this helped her with her loss.
Tragedies scatter about our lives, usually. If a decade or more separates one loss — a job, a parent, a home, a pet — from another, is what’s lost a tragedy? For others, losses accumulate, completely warping their understanding of the world. In her articulate tragicomic memoir, “The Rules Do Not Apply,” Ariel Levy recounts the dissolution of her marriage, her miscarriage and her move from what she thought her permanent home — all lost over three months. Reading this challenges one’s sense or definition of tragedy.
Perhaps what I like most about this memoir is that she tells her story without telling me how to live mine, ours. One fault I have with her book, though, is that even Levy’s frank discussion of her grief sounds more like reportage than confession. She doesn’t meditate on her despair in the model of Sylvia Plath or Anne Sexton. (To be fair, not everyone could, or even should, be the next Plath.) To oversimplify, her memoir reads like a book-length personal history piece in The New Yorker, not the tumultuous and disconsolate mess of confessional writing.
Whoa! So disappointed in this book full of white privilege (ie. The Rules NEVER applied)! I read through because as a gay person, it is always interesting to hear how other couples made it (or didn't) because so much is heteronormative in this world. Levy does have a way with words, I will give her that, but I am upset at how "breezy" all the events in her life were...virtually no feeling besides descriptions of feelings...it was as if I was reading a manniquin's tale only one that always resided on Saks Fifth Avenue....who is able to travel to India and Himalayas alone as a young person with nothing of their own besides their parent's gifts to them?...Those are trips of a lifetime that some people work to earn over their whole lifetimes. This book just didn't have much substance to it. I agree with lower rated comments below.
I was disappointed in this read. Before I began the book, I assumed _The Rules Do Not Apply_ implied that she, Ariel Levy, had followed the rules all her life and thought that life would be fair and play out accordingly (as long as she did the "right" thing), but she would later learn, as many do, that no amount of following the rules could protect her from the unfairness and cruelty of life. But no, after reading it, I realize that Levy just truly lived her life by her own rules and was met with success after success until, of course, the ultimate devastating loss (which of course she in no way deserved or caused, let me make clear). I consider myself to have a lot of "privilege" in this world (as a white, cis-, educated woman), but Ariel Levy inhabits a whole other level or privilege. A privilege that angered me, maybe because I am jealous of it. And that jealousy made me realize that I assumed the meaning of the title of _The Rules Do Not Apply_, because that is MY story. I have always tried to follow the "rules" and yet suffered tragedy, all the same. Re: it's value on a literary level, I would just read the original essay this was based on (which has some great passages), not this whole book.
Judging from comments here and on goodreads.com, writer/author Ariel Levy is somewhat of a hot button for many readers. I wasn't two seconds into the first review of "The Rules Do Not Apply" on goodreads before the term "white-girl privilege" was invoked and being seconded by many commenters. Perhaps because I myself am a white girl I read this book, enjoyed it very much, and never gave a second (or first) thought about such privilege or how it informs this author's story.
Maybe I'm just not very deep or very political.
I am intelligent however, and I enjoyed this slim book. I enjoyed the author's story, her writing, and the fact that she made the book "right in length". That is, the story didn't require more pages than she awarded it.
Did I think there was a purpose to everything she wandered into writing of or even understand why she chose to include it? I didn't but the pages just flowed and her story - her interesting story - seeped out and kept me reading. In simplest form, this is the story of a woman who lived her life never seemingly experiencing loss or even giving it a thought, then lost a lot. It's the details and the humanity that shine through.
I think I'd enjoy this author as a friend, now that she's experienced such.
A good, quick read.
One of my worst reading decisions has been to keep reading-skimming-reading after I found out how poorly this book was laid out. But I kept looking for some redemption in the author's story (it is, after all, a memoir); there was not. For me it only got worse. When a person realizes that they are not and can never be "in control of their life"--that is the best and most logical time to turn to God for true orientation and understanding of them self, their value, their purpose, etc. Not this person. She is worthy of much prayer and compassion, but not the paper and efforts of many people to put her writing into a book.
Fascinating to hear how somebody tried to circumvent "the rules" by applying her own - to ill effect I might add, nor sure whose rules she's referring to in the title. Nor surprised about outcome of pregnancy, interesting couple with so many problems considered parenthood a good idea. Doesn't mention divorce though mentions marriage ending and by the way, why did Emma get married in white? (Just asking.)
Ariel does an amazing job of describing the incredible lonely and severe anguish she felts after loosing her child due to a miscarriage. I have never been pregnant, but I know the feeling of having to move far away from a dear little boy I know in another country.... (the child I never had).
I am a notoriously slow reader, but read this in 2 days, it was so compelling. Levy's writing is beautifully eloquent and honest. Her story is both happy and tragic, and while she admittedly makes some poor choices in life, her reflection on this is insightful. I wished for a more conclusive ending, but somehow it perfectly completed her story.
Did not enjoy, only finished it because I like to hear about women's travel adventures but she did not have many of those. It seemed to me like I was reading her unedited journal, some introspection but not anything like Cheryl Strayed.
This woman is the best interviewer I've heard lately which is why I finally took the time to read this book. She is upbeat and positive and so good at getting people to share their experiences, and has such original ways of responding. So reading her I figured she'd be that positive and unique, even though she's known for her tragic stories on podcasts and er completely, awfully sad story, "Thanksgiving in Mongolia."
Somehow the happy and the sad come together perfectly in a beautiful way, sharing in her original voice her original life. I think I read it in a day. I wanted to give her a hug, wanted to bake her cookies, wanted to thank her. I still do.
Written in an easy, friendly voice, this book chronicles Levy's life with her parents, her move to independence and love, and then the losses she faced. It's interesting and engaging and I'd love to read more from her.