Kate McGovern’s Rules for 50/50 Chances – a YA contemporary about the uncertainty of life

Kate McGovern’s Rules for 50/50 Chances – a YA contemporary about the uncertainty of life

The conflict in this book is original, and the protagonist feels very real.  Unfortunately, most people faced with life altering decisions aren’t at their best, so Rose’s very honest responses will grate on some reader’s nerves.  I didn’t mind her myself, but I thought her love interest was a bit of a downer.  This book will appeal to readers who are facing decisions about their own future.


Goodreads Summary

A heartrending but ultimately uplifting debut novel about learning to accept life’s uncertainties; a perfect fit for the current trend in contemporary realistic novels that confront issues about life, death, and love.

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.

My Thoughts

This is a hard book to rate because I had such conflicted feelings about the storylines.  I did enjoy Rose’s journey to figuring out what she really wanted from her life.  It is easy to see why Rose would feel like she was frozen in a holding pattern because of her responsibility to her family and the uncertainty of her own future health.  Even readers who don’t have such impossible odds hanging over them can relate to the fear of making a choice about their future.  I liked how she began to recognize her desires as seperate from her parents’ desires.  For most kids, that college choice is the first time they really have to decide if they are going to go against parental expectations, so I thought it was well done.  I even liked the fact that this painted a nice picture of the uncertainty we all face about death – car crash or genetic disease, we all die and most of us won’t get any warning, so can you really put life on hold just because your life might end sooner?  I was thoroughly disappointed by the romantic relationship that developed between Rose and Caleb.  He had his good attributes, but he sure seemed to have a superiority complex when it came to Rose.  Either love her for who she is, or walk away, but don’t try to fix her like you are her moral guide.  I disliked him.  I disliked their awkward and uncomfortable discussions that always turned into a life lesson about how Rose is less enlightened than Caleb.  I really disliked the fact that Rose and Caleb had a physical relationship when they always appeared to be fighting.  Why?  This was a disaster, and as much as it may be a realistic look at a relationship, it isn’t one I want to hold up as positive for my students.  While I think this could add up to some rather interesting classroom debates, because someone will drink the Koolaid and insist tha Caleb is sooo fabulous, I just don’t know if I want to put this relationship out there for debate.  Language and situations are mature but not graphic, so it is suitable for most high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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