Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (November 24th 2015)
Hardcover: 352 pages
Add on: Goodreads
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
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.
Rules for 50/50 Chances was a book that I didn’t really expect to like, but ended up enjoying a lot more than I thought I would. I liked that it wasn’t another book about a teen dealing with cancer instead it was a book about a teen’s mom dealing with Huntington’s Disease. Like with its diverse characters (as we are kept being reminded of throughout the book), we learn about diseases that are just as intense as cancer, which was nice for a change. This book mainly focuses on Huntington’s and Sickle Cell, none that I was familiar with but have heard about. I wasn’t sure about our heroine Rose. She wants to find out if she’s going to get Huntington’s because she’s scared that she might end up like her mom in a few years’ time and while she complains that it would let her make things clearer for her, I like that her parents says no. Finding out would be the ultimate life changer. It could make a person do irrational and YOLO-y things and that’s what I like about her parents. Their decisions matter and is taken into account, they just don’t fade into the void and never to be seen again.
And, of course, no “disease” book is completed with romance. I liked Caleb and his family. I was actually surprised that both families have a sense of humor despite that they have someone with disease. But since Rose’s mom can’t be there to asset about Caleb, her grandmother does her mom’s job and it’s hilarious. What I didn’t like was that Caleb had to keep reminding Rose – us – that he’s black and people treat him differently. He’s funny and supports Rose in whatever she does. The guy will wach ballet with her, which I’m pretty sure no guy will be caught dead in doing unless his sister is in it. And even though he is a jerk for missing her recital, I liked that he does things to make up for the lost and that earned him some points in my book. Caleb also puts up with her mom’s racial comments (it’s easy to empathize with Rose’s mom because the disease is eating her mind away) and I like the way he gives her a nickname the first time they meet. Their friendship made me feel warm and fuzzy because he just gets her.