“My competent self – so strong, since childhood, so perspicacious, always looking for opportunities, adventures, glory, always trying to protect me from defeat – had been crushed. The wide-open blue forever had spoken: You control nothing.” Ariel Levy’s memoir, The Rules Do Not Apply was a gut wrenching read that took my breath away and inspired me at the same time. Ariel is an adventure seeking writer who has traveled the globe for her stories, and is currently working for The New Yorker. She has interviewed everyone from the South African runner Caster Semenya to the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. She seemed to have it all — a wonderful marriage, a successful career, financial security and a baby on the way. She says “I wanted what we all want: everything. We want a mate who feels like family and a lover who is exotic, surprising. We want to be youthful adventurers and middle-aged mothers. We want intimacy and autonomy, safety and stimulation, reassurance and novelty, coziness and thrills. But we can’t have it all.” In a very short span of time, she suffered tremendous loss and her family as she knew it was gone.
Ariel writes with such rawness and candor that it is impossible to not be moved. While hers is a story of unfathomable, gut wrenching loss, it is also a story of inspiration. The fact that she could get up out of bed and put one foot in front of the other after all she had experienced and go back out into the world is amazing to me. I will not reveal any spoilers here but there is a scene from the book where she takes a picture with her phone and that passage still haunts me. This book is an examination of life, our choices and their consequences, of grief, stars. Thank you so much to Netgalley and Random House for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review. forgiveness and redemption. It is also an incredible testament to the resiliency of Levy’s spirit and her drive. 4 out of 5