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What If ... You Broke All the Rules    by Liz Ruckdeschel & Sara James order for
What If ... You Broke All the Rules
by Liz Ruckdeschel
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Decisions! Decisions! Sophomore Haley Miller faces many each day in What If . . . You Broke All the Rules, one in a series of reader-interactive decision-making stories about teen life. Though an interesting concept, it sometimes falls short in keeping the reader's interest, being a mite tedious and repetitive in scenes. However, those who persist will find the issues relate to real-life decisions, with interesting scenarios along the way.

Due to their (attorney and filmmaker) parents' prolonged absences from home, Haley and brother Mitchell are having difficulties. Haley takes on her brother's care, and arranges counseling as she notices his withdrawal. At Hillsdale (NJ) High, teen school queens Coco and Whitney fall from their thrones. When Coco behaves badly at Richie's New Year's Eve party, Haley captures all on film and must decide whether or not to plaster it all over the Net. When Whitney is suspected of heavy shoplifting, Haley ponders whether she should investigate and expose her, or help the teen make amends. Shaun's girlfriend Irene steps away from him because he is overweight. On Haley's suggestion that Shaun do something to prove his feelings for Irene, Shaun participates in a stunt that lands him in the hospital. Personally, Haley wonders whether certain classmates are being nice to her just to use her, and overhears damaging rumors. There is much truth displayed in one of Haley's thoughtful moments: 'so two people are having worse days than I am. Somehow that doesn't make me feel better.'

What If . . . You Broke All the Rules is not plot-based but rather teaches decision-making and its results via best-or worst-case scenarios. Each titled scene is followed by directions on which page to go to next for the decision chosen. There are good results, negative repercussions, and plans that backfire. The method used by Liz Ruckdeschel and Sara James in their What If books offers the reader a sense of role-playing as a participating writer in each story. The authors warn: 'Haley's options have never looked better ... her choices have never mattered more ... and it's up to you the reader to make sure this is Haley's best year yet! Choose wisely!' Watch for the next installment of Haley's life in What If ... Everyone Was Doing It.

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