Featured Review: Simone Breaks All the Rules (Debbie Rigaud)
About This Book:
Simone Thibodeaux is about to switch things up.
Check her life: It’s sealed in a boy-proof container. Her Haitian immigrant parents send Simone to an all-girls high school and enforce strict no-dating rules. As for prom? Simone is allowed to go on one condition: Her parents will select her date (a boy from a nice, Haitian immigrant family, obviously).
Simone is desperate to avoid the setup -- especially since she has a serious crush on another boy. It's time to take action. Simone and her fellow late-bloomer friends make a senior year bucket list of all the wild things they haven't done yet. Like: going out dancing, skipping class (what), and oh yeah -- deciding their own prom destinies.
But as the list takes on a life of its own, things get much messier than Simone expected. Can she figure out which rules are worth breaking and which might save her from heartbreak?
*Review Contributed by Karen Yingling, Staff Reviewer*
Simone's Haitian immigrant parents are very strict; she and her sister Anne have to go to an all girls school that requires uniforms, aren't allowed to socialize in the same way that their peers do, and even have their prom dates arranged by their mother! Anne is at college now (NOT living on campus), and Simone is a senior. When her mother plans to set her up with the younger brother of Anne's prom date, she has had enough. It's bad that she can't tell her parents that she wants to live on campus when she attends nearby Rutgers, but to have an arranged date? No. She enlists her schoolmates Amita and Kira, who have their own overly controlling parents, to make a list of activities that they want to try to accomplish during their senior year. They aren't wild activities-- go to a party, ride bikes, go to New York City, and maybe kiss a boy-- but they are daring for the girls, whose parents are very interested in everything they do. Amita has a boyfriend, Pritpal, but her parents still expect her to go to prom with her cousin, Krish. Kira's parents are especially concerned about her social media usage, and tell her that she can go to prom, but that she should make a statement by going by herself. The girls, who are not used to bringing friends home, make small steps towards their freedom. Simone connects with Gavin, who attends the brother school to hers, and the two arrange to go to her prom together. Simone decides to bring her arranged date, Ben, in on the plan, and hopes that he will be willing to attend with Kira. The only problem? While Gavin is cute, interesting, and seems into Simone, Ben is ALSO cute, interested in projects that Simone finds appealing, and is steeped in the Haitian culture that Simone seems painfully distant from. How will the girls balance belly button piercings and fake tattoos with clubbing and hanging out with boys with the deeper issues of personal freedom and understanding with their parents?
This is a great choice for fans of Kasey West, or Sarah Dessen, or Watson's Love is a Revolution, and Richardson's The Meet-Cute Project. It's great to see these romantic "beach reads" with more cultural connections and settings that are quite different from the suburban Ohio ones my readers inhabit, especially ones that are more middle school appropriate when it comes to language and situations. Even as an adult, I don't like to read about alcohol and drug use or descriptive... physical situations. I loved Rigaud's 2009 Perfect Shot and hope to see more books by her soon!