The Rules of Us by Jennifer Nissley
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publishing Date: May 9, 2023
Come out. Break up. Stay friends? In this heartwarming queer love story about love of all kinds, exes navigate new crushes, new feelings, and a newly uncertain future after unexpectedly coming out to each other on prom night turns their lives–and their friendship–upside down. Can they figure out how to move on without losing each other?
Jillian and Henry are the kind of couple who do everything together. They take the same classes, have the same hobbies, and applied for the same super-competitive scholarship so they can go to the same dream college. They even come out as gay to each other on the same night, after junior prom, prompting a sudden breakup that threatens their intertwined identities and carefully designed future. Jillian knows the only way to keep everything on track is to approach their breakup with the same precision and planning as their scholarship application. They will still be “Jillian and Henry”–even if they’re broken up.
Except they hadn’t planned on Henry meeting the boy of his dreams or Jillian obsessing over a cool girl at school. Jillian is desperate to hold on to her best friend when so much else is changing. But as she and Henry explore what–and who–they really want, it becomes harder to hold on to the careful definitions she has always lived her life by. Stuck somewhere between who she was with Henry and who she might be on her own, Jillian has to face what she can’t control and let go of the rules holding her back.
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-rules-of-us-jennifer-nissley/1142194708
Thoughts and Themes: I was a little worried when I started reading this book and even more so as I got into it. I was worried this was going to be Jillian and Henry both being queer except they’d be each other’s exception. Now you don’t get that from the blurb but as things progressed through the story I was so worried that this was going to be as far as they got with their sexuality. I was pleasantly surprised though and found that I loved this book so much.
I liked how they both came out to each other at the same time but I also like how Henry later brings this up as something that wasn’t the best for him. I like that we get real feelings and emotions from Jillian and Henry and how messy their friendship is after they come out to each other. I loved that we see them go back to each other multiple times because it is all either of them knows and how they find comfort in each other. The whole book felt very real to me and it was relatable.
Characters: In this book, you get to meet our two main characters, Jillian and Henry, along with their love interests and families. I loved the relationships that we get to see throughout this whole book, between Jillian and Henry, both of them with their families, Henry with his boyfriend, and Jillian with Carla.
I like that we see Jillian and Henry’s relationship change over the course of the book as they figure out how they fit with each other. I like that Henry calls Jillian out on everything having to be on her terms and how much control she has to have. I really thought that the conversation they had was important to their character growth even though it hurts as you read through that scene.
Writing Style: This book is told in first person through the perspective of Jillian which is something that I actually really enjoyed. I like that we only got to see how Jillian was feeling about everything and we were missing the perspective of Henry. I think the book would’ve read differently to the reader if we knew how Henry felt about everything that was happening. I liked that all we knew was the things he actually told Jillian about but we didn’t know these things until he had enough.
Jennifer Nissley (she/her/hers) is the author of THE MYTHIC KODA ROSE, which will be published by Simon & Schuster in Summer 2021. Although her first love is writing, she is powerfully attracted to video games, horses, and pretty much any piece of clothing or interior design with an animal on it.
She received her MFA in Fiction from Stony Brook Southampton and lives in Queens with her wife and doggo, but sadly no horses.
Currently, she’s at work on multiple writing projects.