The Unwritten Rule
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“I liked him first, but it doesn’t matter.
I still like him.
That doesn’t matter either.
Or at least, it’s not supposed to.”
Everyone knows the unwritten rule. You don’t like your best friend’s boyfriend.
Sarah has had a crush on Ryan for years. He’s easy to talk to, supersmart, and totally gets her. Lately it even seems like he’s paying extra attention to her. Everything would be perfect except for two things: Ryan is Brianna’s boyfriend, and Brianna is Sarah’s best friend.
Sarah forces herself to avoid Ryan and tries to convince herself not to like him. She feels so guilty for wanting him, and the last thing she wants is to hurt her best friend. But when she’s thrown together with Ryan one night, something happens. It’s wonderful…and awful.
Sarah is torn apart by guilt, but what she feels is nothing short of addiction, and she can’t stop herself from wanting more…
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What Others Say:
“Brilliant, touching, and true.” — Carrie Jones, New York Times Bestselling author of Need and Captivate
“Trust Elizabeth Scott to create an exquisite portrait of longing so palpable, I yearned for the Forbidden Boy, too. Trust her to look unflinchingly at the undercurrents beneath the ‘cracked gloss’ of friendship: loyalty and love, jealousy and hurt. The Unwritten Rule is, above all, a superb study of what it means to be authentic when what you want collides with what you cannot have.” –Justina Chen, author of North of Beautiful
“Sarah and Ryan’s relationship, with the visceral thrill of physical attraction, is beautifully captured, but it’s the delicate balance between insecure Brianna’s need to put Sarah down and Sarah’s loyalty to her needy and lonely friend that will stay with the reader. The painfully abrupt ending fits the characters and story, and will leave readers wanting more. Scott’s realistic dialogue and empathetic view of symbiotic relationships will have teens thinking she has been eavesdropping on their conversations. Romance readers will pick up this novel and discover fine, accessible writing many notches about the standard love story.” — Booklist
“The unwritten rule is that you don’t like your best friend’s boyfriend–in a romantic sense, anyway. Sarah and Brianna have been best friends since kindergarten. Sarah, sensitive and mousy, has always played sidekick to outgoing, beautiful Brianna. Sarah has also liked Ryan since eighth grade, but she can’t break the news now because Brianna and Ryan are dating. Then Sarah and Ryan kiss, and he confesses he likes her, too. Sarah knows that revealing the truth to Brianna will devastate their friendship, but she believes that what she has with Ryan is true love. The love triangle is complex by itself, but Scott gives it extra dimension by adding a painful look at Sarah and Brianna’s toxic friendship. Readers need to read between the lines of Sarah’s first-person narration to see that even as Sarah provides Brianna a refuge from her verbally abusive parents, Brianna visits that same abuse upon her. They will cheer her growing self-awareness as Sarah sees that she is as deserving of love as Brianna, even if she isn’t as bold.” —Kirkus
“‘Everyone knows the unwritten rule: You don’t like you best friend’s boyfriend.’ That’s a fairly simple, if agonizing, premise, but Scott (the reigning mistress of smart yet classically heart-wrenching romance) expands it into a vivid study of character and growth that’s deliciously festooned with yearning and possibilities…readers looking for tender stolen moments and the flowering of forbidden love will want to curl up with this one.” The Bulletin of the Center of Children’s Books
“Heart-wrenchingly real and brutally honest, Scott’s novel delves into the world of girl politics and love with abandon. Get ready to grow with the characters as Scott explores one of the hardest dilemmas girls face: What to do when you like your best friend”s boyfriend?” —Romantic Times
“Sarah has liked Ryan for years. (Since he asked her to a dance back in eighth grade.) But when her friend, Brianna, makes a (successful) move on the new-and-improved Ryan at an end-of-summer party, Sarah feels guilty for wishing things were oh-so-different. Everything is complicated because Brianna is always insisting that Sarah come along when the she and Ryan hang out and when they “study” together. The three do get along together surprisingly well. But. Sarah can’t help wishing that she was with Ryan.
Does she have reason to hope? How does Ryan see her? Does he see her like that? Would it matter if he did? Would she still choose to play by the rules if she knew that he cared for her too?
I enjoyed this one. The friendship between Sarah and Brianna is complicated. Good, bad, ugly, it’s all there. And it’s nice to see a book explore how some friendships can turn toxic somewhere along the way. But that’s not to say Brianna can be summed up in a simple little word like toxic. She plays both victim and bully. Both Brianna and Sarah are human, flawed. And I love that. I love it when a book takes the time to develop characters and relationships. Scott’s characters are always unique and quirky and have interesting (or sometimes not so interesting) lives. (Sarah’s thing is for designing sneakers.)
I really love Elizabeth Scott. I really have loved all of her books: Love You Hate You Miss You, Something Maybe, Living Dead Girl, Stealing Heaven, Perfect You, and Bloom. Each has its place. And I’d definitely recommend all of them.”–Becky’s Book Reviews
“Elizabeth Scott does it again, bringing something not spoken of out into the light. The Unwritten Rule explores the depth of the emotional and physical struggle to do the right thing, but also to follow your heart. The deep struggles Sarah has within herself are unbearable. She so desperately wants to do the right thing, but she wants even more to love and be loved by Ryan. This book could be classified as a coming of age novel, not a a childhood to young adulthood, but it has the gradual change from youth to adulthood. The Unwritten Rule takes immature relationships to mature relationships with meanings and futures. Scott shows that the unwritten rule needs to be written and spoken of and calls for people to be defined by their actions and beliefs, not by the opinions of others. The Unwritten Rule is insightful and the characters are developed well.” — Page Blitz
“Sometimes you’re in the mood for werewolves. Sometimes you’re in the mood for girl football players. And sometimes you’re in the mood for a romance story with teen characters so real they’re practically jumping off the page — and for that last one, you’ll pick up The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott.
One of Elizabeth Scott’s great strengths are her characters. It was one of the first things I loved about her books. Sometimes I want to shake her characters, sometimes I want to hug them, and that’s because they feel so real to me. Sarah, Brianna, Ryan, and the rest of the characters in The Unwritten Rule are no exception.
Of course, I was rooting for our protagonist here – Sarah’s a sweet girl in a tight spot and there’s no win-win solution for her. But the character that really fascinated me was Brianna. It’d be easy to write Brianna off as a kind of frenemy, an obstacle to Sarah’s destiny. But, like real people, Brianna’s complex. And, okay, maybe she does mean things sometimes, but you can absolutely see why she is the way she is, and why Sarah has to keep quiet about her feelings for Ryan. It’s a tribute to Ms. Scott’s writing that she can make the reader feel empathy for Brianna, even as we’re rooting for Sarah to get the guy.
This is a sweet romance story and I’d definitely recommend picking it up if you enjoy Sarah Dessen or Jenny Han. (Can I also just say that I love the cover? It’s so pretty and purple!) —Abby the Librarian
“I read this book in a few hours, all in the same night. It was impossible for me to walk away from, because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to the characters, and I couldn’t even decide for myself what I actually wanted to happen. Did I think the best friend should get the guy and lose her best friend? Was the girl currently with the guy being mean? Was I mad at the guy for not going for what he wanted in the first place? I really liked how our main character considered the role of best friends in the media (especially movies). I found what she said to be so very true – best friends in movies are there to be awkward, to listen… not often to have as great a life as the more popular of the best friends. I was very satisfied with the ending, and agreed with the ways things turned out, even though I didn’t know that that is what I wanted until it actually happened. Bravo, Elizabeth Scott!” — Chick Loves Lit
“Elizabeth Scott is an amazing author–she can write anything and I’m always amazed at her talent. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy this one–I hate love triangles and stealing someone’s boyfriend–no way! But Ms. Scott pulls it off in a wonderful way that made me feel for the characters.
As much as I liked Sarah and Ryan, Brianna was the stand out character for me. I would like her and hate her at the same time. I would feel sorry for her but I’d also want to yell at her for being so mean. Ms. Scott walks a very fine line with Brianna and it works-she kept me guessing about her the entire time. Was she good or bad? Someone to like or not? And could we make excuses for her? I could have an entire book discussion on just Brianna alone!
But I can’t leave Sarah out (and not just because she shares my name)! Your heart aches with her as she is wracked with guilt over wanting her best friend’s boyfriend and wanting to remain loyal to Brianna. The story is slowly unraveled and bits and pieces about the past are unveiled and the reader, like Sarah, wants so badly for Sarah and Ryan to be together.
I also love the families that Ms. Scott writes–she has the best supporting characters. I loved that Sarah was close to her parents and she’s ok staying at home with them. I’ve always had a close relationship with my family–even as a teen–and that is a rare thing to find in YA books. Sarah’s relationship with her parents was believable and they were a family I would love to visit.
This is an emotional novel and one that will stick with you. It might sound like it’ll be a fluffy chick lit romance, and while there is romance, it’s certainly not fluff! If you’ve read anything by Elizabeth Scott, you know she writes great romances and this one is no exception. It’s never an easy or light romance–it’s heartwrenching and heartbreaking and real. The Unwritten Rule doesn’t take the easy all will be perfect route to this story which I think makes the book even more realistic. This book will have you thinking about your friendships and relationships long after you read the last page.” — Green Bean Teen Queen
“Scott takes on realistic stories — ones that could have been mundane had they been written by anyone else – and makes them into masterpieces. Her characters jump to life from the pages, mastered with little details and side characters that create a life more real than I”ve seen created in any one book before. The black ink on these pages turns into a real-life flesh-and-blood story by Scott’s hand.
The Unwritten Rule sounded like one of her most simple plots — a love triangle. Sarah falls for her best friend’s boyfriend and he falls back. Before reading this book, I felt like this was a betrayal that could be unforgiven. I thought it was shady and unlawful and a rule you just shouldn’t break. But the way Elizabeth Scott created this setup, I couldn’t help but understand. This book was told from the eyes of Sarah, and her feelings were realistic, making me believe in her relationship with Ryan and even root for it.
Brianna, Sarah’s best friend, had her own storyline — one that was very interesting for me. I would love to read this book from her point of view too. As it was, I felt like I could understand her reasoning but not her emotions. Sarah feels incredible guilt over what she feels for Ryan, but it’s what she feels. It’s pretty dang hard to control feelings. This book really opens your eyes to these types of chaotic messes, making you question what you’d if had you been put in the same situation. This particular triangle is messy and gritty and just…real.
Elizabeth Scott and “real” go together like fish and water, man. And she seriously rocks her literary socks with this one. She did it again. This woman is my idol.” — The Page Flipper
“The Unwritten Rule is one of Elizabeth Scott’s most simple yet achingly realistic books. Though the issue at the heart of the book, liking your best friend’s boyfriend, isn’t exactly special or unique, Scott works her magic, making this book about so much more than messy love, but about friendship, how far loyalty extends, and familial relationships and their own set of complexities. Though for the most part The Unwritten Rule has the feel of a light, romantic book with its occasional predictability, Scott packs in plenty of emotion, and the reader can’t help but feel more conflicted and empathetic with Sarah as she is drawn farther into Brianna’s drama and a few things about herself and that friendship, true friendship, goes both ways. As always, Scott’s magnetism will enthrall many, and her style is simple and convincing. This book is an open and excellent look at the drama and heartache involved in love and friendship.” — The Compulsive Reader
“The best book I’ve read so far by Elizabeth Scott, The Unwritten Rule is gripping, honest, and leaves you with a full heart at the end…it’s damn good and I say that reading it will make your life a little better just because you’ll have this book in it.” — Bookaholic Extraordinaire
I think it’s impossible for someone not relate to something in The Unwritten Rule. Be it having a crush on your friend’s (or best friend’s) boyfriend or maybe being friends with someone that uses you as a stepping stool, they can’t give you a compliment without sort of insulting you at the same time. There is a lot here and I know it sure gave me a lot to think about and all the while Scott is writing in her relatable and humorous voice.
I love how the book is super romantic but also very serious when it comes to friendship and family issues. It’s really a very well rounded book. At first Sarah’s best friend Brianna seems like the sweetest friend ever but little by little you realize she’s doing things for herself that are uncomfortable and wrong for her friend and boyfriend but she’s not doing it without reason. She has some serious family issues but the book makes you think about the fact that you can only help a person so much without getting wrapped up in their issues and messing up your own life.
And normally you’d think of a potential boyfriend stealer as someone horribly awful but Scott writes Sarah and her past with Ryan in such a way that you (at least I did) think they should be together and it’s always meant to be that way. And same with Ryan, he didn’t come off as the sleazy boyfriend, he was almost angelic and wanted to do what was right for his girlfriend but also himself.
I tore through The Unwritten Rule wanting to find out how this how love triangle was going to work itself out and let me tell you I loved the entire ride and outcome. — Pop Culture Junkie
“I really enjoyed The Unwritten Rule. I say this every time, but Elizabeth Scott is one of my favorite authors, and this book did not disappoint. It’s an interesting topic — liking your best friend’s boyfriend. I’ve always wondered what I would do in this situation, but I’m lucky that this has never happened to me. I got to see it play out in this book, though, and I must say it’s entertaining to watch… I’m not going to say what happens in the end, but I liked the ending, and it isn’t a cliched one, which is always good. The Unwritten Rule is an interesting take on the dynamics of friendships and boys, and makes you want to keep reading until the end.” — Simply Books
If you’re already an Elizabeth Scott fan, you will just adore this book. If you’re not an Elizabeth Scott fan. Wait! Why aren’t you an Elizabeth Scott fan? Go and buy one of her books, immediately, and I guarantee you will be.
The Unwritten Rule has a main character you can relate to and to root for. It has a friendship that seems very real, in both it’s good elements and it’s toxic ones. It has a toe-curling romance. And it has kissing, lots of kissing, which is never a bad thing.
This book is adorable. Underneath the adorableness, there are the themes of what it means to be a good friend, learning to recognizing your own worth, standing up for yourself, and being brave about what you really want. There were many lines that just floored me, in how brilliantly they expressed truths, that we rarely acknowledge. There is a lot of introspection and soul searching from Sarah in this book, but she never tips over into being annoying, and the story moves at a quick pace.
I also wanted to mention Sarah’s parents. They aren’t in the novel a lot, but when they were I loved them. I loved that they were different. Parents are hard to write, and Elizabeth always nails them perfectly. Whether they are distant and unloving, worried but distracted, or just lovely, as with Sarah’s parents. I also liked that Sarah’s Dad is old, he was 50 when she was born because parents are getting older, and it was nice to see it reflected in a novel. — Not Enough Bookshelves
“As always, Elizabeth Scott has produced a novel filled with raw emotion and great characters. One of my favourite aspects about all of Elizabeth’s romance themed novels is that I can literally feel exactly what the characters are going through. It’s hard to convey in words just how well she gets into the mind and emotions of these characters. It’s in the way it’s written that makes the reader feel so connected and attached. In a sense, her novels, as I’ve mentioned before, bring me back to a time when all of the feelings occurring in this book were so new and frustrating in my own life. That’s another reason I love YA romance books. Every emotion is always so heightened and intense…There’s also more to this novel than just forbidden feelings. Friendship and family is also touched upon a great deal which I enjoyed reading about as well. No one’s life revolves around one occurrence and one problem at a time so I thought it was great that Scott added in other realistic elements to this story as well. Another aspect I really enjoyed were the characters. I always relate and sympathize with the protagonist in Elizabeth’s novels and Sarah was no exception. I felt more and more connected to her as her story progressed. Ryan was very sweet and likable which is important. I find that if I can’t like the male love interest in a novel than it often falls flat. Brianna, who happened to be Sarah’s best friend, was a very interesting character. I’ve never stumbled upon a friend character like her in a YA novel. When you read the novel you’ll know what I’m referring to. To conclude this review I do very much so recommend The Unwritten Rule. Elizabeth Scott fans will love it and I think new readers will enjoy it as well. ” — Michelle’s Bookshelf
“Among girlfriends, there is one unwritten rule – do not steal your best friend’s boyfriend. When Brianna starts dating Ryan, Sarah is crushed because she’s liked Ryan for years. Sarah doesn’t intend to steal Ryan from Brianna but as the three begin to hang out more, it’s obvious Ryan and Brianna’s relationship isn’t great. So when Sarah finds out that Ryan likes her back, she kisses him, twice. Can Sarah and Brianna’s friendship survive this and is Ryan worth it?
I’ve been a big fan of Elizabeth Scott’s writing ever since her first book, Bloom. Her characters are real and endearingly flawed. In The Unwritten Rule, Sarah is insecure and she feels lucky that Brianna is her best friend. Though Brianna constantly puts Sarah down, Sarah takes it because, without Brianna, she feels lost. And as for Ryan, let’s just say that I enjoyed reading a book where the boy wasn’t portrayed as this evil person breaking up a friendship. The Unwritten Rule is an absorbing novel about growing up, finding your own way, and the importance of breaking some rules.” — Em’s Bookshelf
“The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott is a great book about friendship and what we will do or not do for that friendship to continue. A realistic look at relationships: parent to child, friend to friend; boyfriend to girlfriend. This book is another winner from teen writer Elizabeth Scott. I read it in one sitting. . . . I couldn’t put it down.”–Kiss The Book
“The Unwritten Rule was something that I had been looking forward to reading for a long time. When I got this book in the mail I couldn’t wait to read it. Every blogger that I know who has read it said it was really good. But I need to take it one step further, I think The Unwritten Rule was actually amazing. I read this book in one night. I found the love triangle between Sarah, Ryan and Brianna intoxicating. I’m sure we’ve all been there. We like a guy but our friend gets the guy instead of us. It doesn’t even have to be our best friend, it still hurts. So, I felt bad for Brianna but at the same time I knew exactly how Sarah felt. She really was torn between a great guy and her not so great best friend. To us this might seem like an easy choice but for Sarah it was the exact opposite. As I was reading this, I kept wondering why Sarah was friends with Brianna. I still really wanted Sarah to end up being with Ryan. Every moment of The Unwritten Rule was really good. All I wanted was to know what was going to happen in the end. I recommend this book to everyone!” — Another Page Is Used
“I adore Elizabeth Scott’s books as I have said many a time! The Unwritten Rule was no exception. I try to take my time reading her books, I like to devour each word, as if I’m actually tasting them. We are introduced to the three main characters, Sarah, Brianna, and Ryan. Ryan is dating Brianna but Sarah likes him. This book really tackles the sensitive subject of liking your friend’s boyfriend. It happens to a lot of girls! You just can’t choose who you fall for! Well, Sarah tries to keep her feelings at bay, she doesn’t want to hurt Brianna but she also longs for Ryan…Sarah learns that she needs to just go after what she wants, not sit on the sideline. Things don’t always go as planned, nothing is 100% picture perfect. Ryan encourages her to just do what she wants, not what Brianna wants. She learns to grow through him. I really enjoyed this book. I love all of Elizabeth’s books and this was just another great one from her. I loved it. So what happens? I love how Scott never just takes the easy way out, things don’t always end up perfect and that is what makes her books so great and realistic! Does true love conquer all? Read it if you get the chance, you won’t be disappointed!”– Princess Bookie
“Elizabeth Scott has delivered another awesome book. The Unwritten Rule is smart, heartbreaking, and greatly realistic. While I, quite thankfully, have never been caught in Sarah’s predicament, it is certainly one I’ve seen acted out to one degree or another within the relationships of teenagers around me. It’s not pretty. Before I read the book, I have to admit that I was predisposed to Brianna’s (Sarah’s best friend) side of things. After all, she did get him first, and no matter what Sarah’s feelings may be, rules must be followed. Especially ones like keeping away from people’s boyfriends. However, within a couple chapters, I was on Sarah’s side almost one hundred percent. By the end of the book, I don’t think anything could have gotten me off of her side. With the suspense tied into this book, I couldn’t put it down. And all too soon, within just a few hours, I had finished the book. I couldn’t get enough and soon found myself flipping through my favorite passages a couple more times. This is one of those books that is a complete blast to read! I heartily recommend.”– Melanie’s Musings
“Elizabeth captured so many real emotions in this book. Not only do we get the best friends dynamic of Sarah and Brianna, but Elizabeth did an amazing job at capturing family dynamics as well. The Unwritten Rule is a true to life book, that will bring out real life feelings as you read it…By the end of the book I was yelling YES! No matter how long we know our friends, some things just need to be said, and some things you just can’t fight feeling.” — Mundie Moms
“Scott’s latest offering is different from her last release (Love You Hate You Miss You) and is closer in tone to Something, Maybe and Perfect You. What I like about her books is that, with the way they’re released, it goes back and forth between serious and more light-hearted. There are issues brought up in these more light-hearted novels, but they’re not as much in the forefront as her serious novels. The way everything unfolds in this novel is just done so well and compelling that it’s hard to put the book down (short chapters also helped). All the characters are well-written and are relatable, and the interactions and reactions from everyone involved make sense for the character. The romantic tension between Sarah and Ryan is executed in a great way and paced very well; it made for some fun reading. I wanted so much to hate Brianna whenever she came on the scene, but at the same time, you feel so bad for her and it almost seems like she can’t help how she is. Overall, what this all leads to is that Scott has written another hit, one that’s sure to please her current fans and bring in tons of new ones.” — Book Chic
“The Unwritten Rule is aptly titled and takes on different meanings throughout the story. It, like Scott’s other stories, has the same simple, gentle narrative tone, realistic and honest. The evolution of the various characters and relationships in the story, particularly those of Sarah/Brianna and Sarah/Ryan, are fascinating to witness… the roles both Sarah and Brianna’s parents played in the story allow everything to come full circle in a way. But that’s what the rest of the story’s all about–coming full circle. The ending’s masterful writing makes it predictably tense and heartbreaking, with the realization that something like this could happen to anyone.”– One Reader’s Trash Is Another Reader’s Treasure