Simone Breaks All the Rules

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Simone Breaks All the Rules
Author(s)
Publisher
Age Range
12+
Release Date
June 01, 2021
ISBN
1338681729
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Perfect for fans of You Should See Me in a Crown and To All the Boys I've Loved Before, this hilarious and heartfelt Own Voices rom-com from bestselling author Debbie Rigaud is pure Black girl joy. 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?

Editor review

1 review
Romance with a Cultural Twist
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
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?
Good Points
Ah, parents. Do any of us get it right? Add a layer of different cultural expectations, and modern teens just have even more to rail against. Anne and Simone are both smart, thoughtful girls who understand why their parents put strictures on their behavior, but still feel that these are unnecessary. I like that Simone does not plan to do anything that's bad for her, just things with which her parents disagree. That she finds like minded friends in Amita and Kira is quite fun, and outspoken cousin Gabby is a good foil. The New Jersey/New York Metropolitan area setting (is that the term?) is well described, although I could have used street names so I could have looked up the areas on Zillow! Both Gavin and Ben are good guys who care about Simone and understand the parental pressures she faces. I especially appreciated that the guy who did NOT go to prom with Simone was given his own romantic interest instead of just being ignored. Middle school students are enthralled with the idea of prom, and this was a great book to give them some insight on issues high schoolers can face when contemplating the event themselves. Sort of like an Emery's Sally and Jean Burnaby for the new millenium!

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!
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