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The New Rules of High School

The New Rules of High School

4.8 13
by Blake Nelson

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Max is the consummate high school overachiever. Straight-A student, debate team captain, future editor of the school paper, dutiful Max does what?s expected?until the day he inexplicably breaks up with Cindy, his perfect girlfriend. Is their relationship too much to handle on top of everything else? Or is Max just tired of doing everything he?s supposed to? As Max


Max is the consummate high school overachiever. Straight-A student, debate team captain, future editor of the school paper, dutiful Max does what?s expected?until the day he inexplicably breaks up with Cindy, his perfect girlfriend. Is their relationship too much to handle on top of everything else? Or is Max just tired of doing everything he?s supposed to? As Max begins to question his life, all of the old rules dissolve?and he searches in some very unlikely places for new ones.

?Nelson, it seems, possesses that peculiar and particular ability, granted to only a few? the Judy Blumes and J. D. Salingers of this world?to accurately portray the mysterious inner life of the American teenager.?
?Time Out New York

?Fiercely real and really fierce.?
?Daniel Handler (aka ?Lemony Snicket?)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Max, a senior, makes excellent grades and achieves everything he tries. But something is not right-in his relationship with the "perfect" girlfriend and with himself. In a starred review, PW called this "an especially mature and incisive look inside the heart of a teenager who believes that he might already have seen the best that life and love have to offer." Ages 14-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Max Cadwell is at the end of his junior year in high school. It seems like he has everything he needs and is exactly the person he should be. Suddenly he decides to break up with his supposedly perfect girlfriend, and he is not even sure why. Max makes a couple of new friends—Eleanor the mysterious girl, Lydia the outgoing freshmen and Jill St. John the radical environmentalist. As the editor of his school paper, Max begins to learn about the different types of people in his high school. The book follows Max through his senior year with a brief epilogue. This book is a wonderful account of the emotional changes a sixteen-year-old can end up dealing with. Max has a pretty normal life by most accounts, but he still struggles with certain issues. While the writing style is directed at a slightly younger audience, the topics of college, relationships, sex and alcohol are more directed at preteens. 2003, Viking/Penguin Group,
— Caroline Haugen
Max Caldwell has always done what other people expected him to do. When readers meet him at the end of his junior year, he is a straight-A student, the captain of the debate team, and the newly appointed editor of the school paper. Nevertheless, starting with his nondecision to break up with his "perfect" girlfriend, Cindy, Max begins to challenge his own, and everyone else's, assumptions about the direction his life should take. Throughout his senior year, he strives to make unexpected and sometimes ill-advised choices-decisions that land him in trouble with his friends and his folks. In the end, he comes to the underwhelming conclusion that breaking out of your own skin can just land you right back in it. With dry wit and a pitch-perfect ear for dialogue, Nelson gifts readers with a languid narrator whose unpredictable choices nevertheless drive the story. It is not an ambitious book. The weightier issues of school violence, peer relations, and abuse are never broached, making way for after-school jobs, first sexual encounters, and partying with freshmen. Although nothing earth-shattering happens to Max along the way, readers, along with Max, feel a little more comfortable in their own skins for having gone on the journey. His familiar story is unfamiliar for its lack of trauma and will resonate with readers struggling to find meaning in the everyday-ness of their everyday lives. VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Viking, 244p,
— Angelina Benedetti
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Max heads toward his senior year with everything he could ever want: he's been named editor-in-chief of the newspaper and debate-team captain, he has great grades, and a beautiful girlfriend. Life gets a little out of whack when the overachiever breaks up with Cindy for no apparent reason. The taste of freedom is sweet for a while but things get complicated when an overbearing, boy-crazy freshman throws herself at him at a party and conveniently lands a job as columnist on the school paper. Her controversial column, "The New Rules of High School," puts the Owl's popularity over the top, forcing Max into an uncomfortable mentorship. As the year progresses, this relationship improves as other friendships suffer through Max's growing pains. Largely dialogue driven, the story evolves from various characters' interactions and conversations with Max. His younger sister, Drea, is the information maven, not only for her own grade but for the high school as well, and she takes on an amusing role as her brother's romantic advisor. Whether Max is grieving over his breakup or testing the waters of singledom, readers are empathetic to his emotional vulnerability. The novel involves a wide variety of high school types-the punks, nerds, jocks, etc.-and successfully reflects the ambivalence in which they coexist. The teenage voice is dead-on, and Max pulls readers by the hand, right into his world, without missing a beat.-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Narrator Max Caldwell is editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, and in his account of his last year in high school, his voice sounds appropriately like a journalist. He reports on what he does and who he encounters, leaving it to the reader to piece together why Max is sabotaging his own success. Dropping his "perfect" girlfriend, jeopardizing his closest friendship, and drinking too much are a few of the ways Max copes with his demanding family life and Ivy League goals. Nelson skillfully reveals Max's character and problems in "show-don't-tell" style, painting a convincing portrait of suburban high-school students and their social and sexual concerns. Even secondary characters like Max's younger sister have a realistic complexity. Readers will recognize, if not themselves, fellow students like Max who lose their bearings while trying to fulfill everyone else's expectations. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.15(w) x 6.69(h) x 0.65(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Blake grew up in Portland, Oregon.

His first love was books but he spent several years in his teens and twenties playing in bands.

Blake's first writing job was at Details magazine, where he wrote short humor pieces on the slacker lifestyle. His fiction remained unpublished until Sassy Magazine (cool girl magazine from the 90s) began publishing excerpts from his first novel.

These excerpts generated enough response to get his first novel GIRL published by Simon and Schuster. GIRL (1994) has since been translated into six foreign languages and was made into a feature film.

After GIRL, Blake published two more adult novels, EXILE (1997) and USER (2001). In 2003 he decided to try a Young Adult novel, (a book specifically for teens) and wrote THE NEW RULES OF HIGH SCHOOL. Since then he has published five YA novels, NEW RULES, ROCKSTAR SUPERSTAR, PROM ANONYMOUS, GENDER BLENDER, and PARANOID PARK.

His books have won numerous awards and continue to be translated around the world. A TV movie for GENDER BLENDER is currently in development at Nickelodeon. And PARANOID PARK, is being made into a film by Gus Van Sant and MK2 Productions.

Blake Nelson currently lives with his wife in Brooklyn, NY.

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New Rules of High School 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
misssallySC More than 1 year ago
This book is about a boy who seems to be perfect on the surface, but stuff is starting to bubble up from down below! Follow Max as he diverges from the path to Yale by hanging out at a dance club and meeting the coolest downtown girl in town. Hearts will be broken!
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The New Rules of High School', was an amazing book.This book has kind of given me the guide line of being in high school. The book was about a high school student named Max, and the things that he faced inside and also outside of the high school world. Max was an intelligent student in class like being the editor of the school paper, but like everyone, he had a wild side. Max went partying, had a girlfriend, lost his virginity, and also had an imense amount of peer preasure. Max went through a lot of stuff in his life. He also had some love mixes. He had a girlfriend that he loved, then when this girl named Lydia joined the newspaper with her column, he started to like her, and etc. All those activities might sound a little difficult, especially for a high school student, but it's really the phases of being a teenager. I recommend this book to anyone who's an teenager or an adult, and also those who have a lot of spare time. And for more information on Max's being in the story, how about you just read the book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is relates to everyone. Things that the author describe about high schools are true. You should read it. it's fun.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is about the senior year for Max Caldwell at Evergreen High School. He is the cool overachiever that finds out what it is like to enter the social world with a bang after breaking up with his girlfriend Cindy; who is also popular, cute, and smart. Max can get away with almost anything because of his irresistible charm and brains. Max turns away from the road to Yale and starts hanging out at a dance club called Agenda and meeting one of the coolest girls in town. He goes to parties and hangs out just like a normal teenager I know this because I am a teenager my self. He meets girls that are not really smart but have interesting views on life and social problems. Max pretty much goes from a good teenager that does what's expected of him to a regular old teenager that hangs out and parties with friends all if the time. I think that this is a great read for teenagers who want to know what it is like in high school. Sean F.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The moment i started reading this book, I couldn't put it down. The story pulls you in and you really feel for Max. When he is troubled you feel troubled for him, when he is happy you feel happy for him. A part of you wants to experience his life style. It's amazing how realistic Blake Nelson can describe events of high school. This outstanding book will make you look at life in a whole new way.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book for my English class and once I started it, I could NOT put it down!! I ended up asking my teacher if I could take it home so I could read more of it at home. I would recommend this book to ANYONE!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am actually a little more than half way done with this book, but so far I LOVE it. I'm 13, and I never really realized that things like this actually DO happen in highschool. It gave me a lot of tips, and overall I think this book is sooo interesting and I am so eager to read it in my free time!
Guest More than 1 year ago
what is this book about? it is about life, plain and simple, about figuring out what you want, realizing you can't get it, and then dealing. really, there is depth iin this that you don't see at first. read it again and see
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book depicts the life of a Mr. Perfect as he goes through a break-up and partying, losing his virginity, being editor, car crash, underage drinking, and peer pressure It's pretty much a teenage life. This book is and all-in-one package of how people change their views and how their friends/ environment affect their life and opinions. From meeting punk chicks to nature freaks to freshmen wierdos. It's a perfect book if you're so lost in life, but even if you're not, it's still awesome
Guest More than 1 year ago
I could'nt put it down!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book rules.I have been reading this book in school and I cant set it down.It so realistic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was very bare bones in it's style. It's almost like a play. The story really creeps up on you because you think it's about Max and his old girlfriend but then Lydia steals his heart. It is a VERY realistic look at high school. If you just want light fluff, this is not for you.