The No-Girlfriend Rule

The No-Girlfriend Rule
Age Range
Release Date
March 05, 2024
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Julie Murphy meets Heartstopper with a D&D twist in this “magical, heartwarming” (Rachael Lippincott, #1 New York Times bestselling author of She Gets the Girl) queer romance about a teen girl whose foray into fantasy tabletop roleplaying brings her new confidence, true friends, and a shot at real, swoon-worthy love.

Hollis Beckwith isn’t trying to get a girl—she’s just trying to get by. For a fat, broke girl with anxiety, the start of senior year brings enough to worry about. And besides, she already has a boyfriend: Chris. Their relationship isn’t particularly exciting, but it’s comfortable and familiar, and Hollis wants it to survive beyond senior year. To prove she’s a girlfriend worth keeping, Hollis decides to learn Chris’s favorite tabletop roleplaying game, Secrets & Sorcery—but his unfortunate “No Girlfriends at the Table” rule means she’ll need to find her own group if she wants in.

Enter: Gloria Castañeda and her all-girls game of S&S! Crowded at the table in Gloria’s cozy Ohio apartment, the six girls battle twisted magic in-game and become fast friends outside it. With her character as armor, Hollis starts to believe that maybe she can be more than just fat, anxious, and a little lost.

But then an in-game crush develops between Hollis’s character and the bard played by charismatic Aini Amin-Shaw, whose wide, cocky grin makes Hollis’s stomach flutter. As their gentle flirting sparks into something deeper, Hollis is no longer sure what she wants…or if she’s content to just play pretend.

Editor review

1 review
A Fascinating Sapphic Book
Overall rating
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The No Girlfriend Rule follows Hollis as she tries to get closer to her boyfriend during their senior year by learning to play Secrets & Sorcery. There is only one problem though, Chris’s game has a “No Girlfriends at the Table” rule which makes it so that Hollis now needs to find a group of her own to join. 

Hollis finds an advertisement at the game store for an all-girls game of S & S hosted by Gloria Castaneda. As Hollis continues to play in this game, she develops friendships with the other girls, but an in-game crush between Hollis’s character and Aini’s bard character causes her to begin questioning what she wants. 

What I loved: 

I appreciated the way that the author included the gameplay in the story. The gameplay was interspersed throughout the story in a way that was intriguing to the reader and made it so that I wanted to hear more, not just about the main story but the gameplay as well. I found that it was easy to follow along with both of the stories and enjoyed following along as Hollis is playing as well as her recollections of the game. 

I enjoyed each of the girls that are a part of Hollis’s Secrets & Sorcery group and how different they are from each other. Fran starts as a wild card whose contributions you are unsure about, and I wondered if she was just added as a comedic effect. As I read on I loved having Fran as a character because it shows how important this game was for her to have a group she belonged in. At first, Hollis questions whether Maggie belongs in the group because of her looks and influencer status, yet we learn that there isn’t one look for S & S players. Hollis realizes how her original thoughts regarding Maggie may be harmful to women. 

Something else that I appreciated about this book was the mental health and neurodiversity representation. I loved that we got a main character who is dealing with anxiety and uses medication for this purpose. I appreciated how the author included this as part of the story and added the moments where Hollis needed her medication to get through the day. The way that anxiety is portrayed throughout the book is realistic and relatable, I loved the response that Hollis received from those around her in those moments as it showed genuine care for her. 

Final Verdict: The No Girlfriend Rule is a fascinating story that touches on relationships, friendship, body shaming, queerness, and more. This book is great for fans of Dungeons and Dragons and gives you a glimpse into what playing the game may be like. This is something that young adults ages 14+ would enjoy as well as adults looking for a sapphic book to read. 
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