The Six Rules of Maybe

The Six Rules of Maybe

4.2 46
by Deb Caletti

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A funny, poignant, uplifting, and truly authentic novel by National Book Award finalist author Deb Caletti.


A funny, poignant, uplifting, and truly authentic novel by National Book Award finalist author Deb Caletti.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Analyzing other people's emotions and motivations is Scarlet Ellis's greatest talent. At school, she's close to few but a confidante to all. Her quiet home life consists mostly of taking pictures and involving herself in her neighbors' business. Since childhood she's idolized her older sister, Juliet, who comes home pregnant and married after years of working as a singer. Scarlet forms a strong bond with Juliet's husband, Hayden, and becomes convinced that Juliet is cheating on him with her high-school boyfriend. At the same time, Scarlet finds herself falling for Hayden. Narrator Scarlet is content to tell everyone's story but her own, and as a result, no plot ever really develops beyond her thoughts. Though Scarlet is thoughtful and well read in psychology, many of her observations about other people's relationships come off as melodramatic rather than enlightening. The most interesting story line involves Scarlet's matchmaking of two oddball classmates, a feat that shows off her interpersonal skills. Overall, because of her lack of focus and sense of self, readers may have a hard time sympathizing with her. (Fiction. YA)
Publishers Weekly
When 17-year-old Scarlett's older sister, Juliet, moves back home pregnant, she brings with her a romantic new husband “she'd never before even mentioned.” While Scarlett's feelings for Hayden grow—she secretly reads the love notes he writes to Juliet and sneaks out to join him for late-night chats—he remains devoted to her pretty sister, who in turn seems fixated on her loser high school boyfriend. Caletti's (The Secret Life of Prince Charming) main characters are well drawn and complex, especially mature Scarlett, who, to her own detriment, is constantly looking after everyone else in her life. Readers may find some of Scarlett's neighbors over the top, such as an elderly couple whose belief in Internet scams leads them to Africa. Scarlett's devotion to them also seems extreme, but it clarifies both why “being needed sometimes made me feel good” and why she feels connected to kind Hayden. In the end, readers will be willing to overlook some of the more outlandish characters to focus on the moving story involving Scarlett and her family. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
“Reminiscent of the best of Sarah Dessen’s work, this novel is beautifully written, deftly plotted, and movingly characterized.” –School Library Journal

“Caletti is a wonderfully gifted writer. Her prose is infused with wisdom and wit, and her characters are all deeply layered. Readers of all ages will undoubtedly enjoy this.” –Romantic Times BOOKREVIEWS

“Scarlet’s adoration of Hayden is both poignant and realistic... Juliet’s pursuit of an old boyfriend, a bad boy, rings true.” — Booklist

“The main characters are well drawn and complex.” –Publishers Weekly

Scarlet's characterization is particularly original...Her relationship with touching and credible...The fact that all three women...struggle with their view of men is explored with particular depth and subtlety...— The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May 2010

Caletti tells her layered, engaging story in her usual style that includes lots of introspection on the part of her narrator, a multitude of fascinating characters, and loads of skillfully crafted sentences that will entice readers racing through to slow down and re-read with pleasure before speeding on again. — Jennifer M. Brabander, Horn Book Magazine, May/June 2010

Juliet was always in the lead, and I was her echo.” So says seventeen-year-old Scarlet about her older sister, who is once again in the lead, having returned home with a husband neither Scarlet nor her mother have ever heard of, let alone met, and a baby on the way. As the summer progresses, Scarlet grows close to Hayden, Juliet’s husband, and begins to worry that Juliet’s old selfishness is going to destroy her new family even before it’s established. Caletti’s fluid, musing style and keen perceptions serve her particularly well in this depiction of Scarlet’s summer of maturation; it’s not so much that the external events are momentous as they believably provide just enough impetus for Scarlet to enrich and transform her view of herself, her sister, and her family. Scarlet’s characterization is particularly original: a happy meddler in people’s lives, she adores leaving secret gifts and pulling strings in ways that will bring joy, and she empathizes too much with clingy lonely outsiders to tell them to get lost. Her relationship with Hayden, a combination of friendship, protectiveness, and crush, is touching and credible, and it provides an effective agent for her increasing flashes of greater understanding. The fact that all three women, Scarlet, Juliet, and their mother, struggle with their view of men is explored with particular depth and subtlety, each is affected in her own way not only by the departure of Scarlett and Juliet’s father but by the responses of the other two to that fact. This is a kind of reconsideration that’s a key component of maturation, and young adults in the thick of the process will find much of themselves in Scarlet’s journey. — BULLETIN, May 2010, STAR

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Seventeen-year-old Scarlet, self-appointed savior, learns a lesson in the pitfalls of trying to control the lives of others in Deb Caletti's novel (Simon Pulse, 2010). The story begins with her older sister, Juliet, suddenly returning home, married and pregnant, accompanied by her architect-student husband, Hayden, and his dog. Juliet, Hayden, the girls' mom, various colorful neighbors, and an assortment of classmates all with complicated issues drive concerned, busybody Scarlet to an emotional climax as she tries to fill the roles of matchmaker, social worker, psychotherapist, and marriage counselor, while simultaneously dealing with her crush on Hayden. A neighbor's fire and the concurrent loss of Hayden's dog, her sister's disappearance, and the loss of Hayden himself break Scarlet's fix-it track and lead to an epiphany: she can't continue trying to control everyone's life. Teri Clark Linden differentiates the characters, but her rendition of teen voices makes them sound unrealistic. Slow speech and odd inflections are not true to today's teen speech; her adult voices are performed well. The retro song excerpts Linden sings are not true to the original tunes. Note that there is plenty of profanity. Barring the odd teen speech, this audiobook should be popular with girls who enjoy adolescent über-drama.—Jennifer Ward, Albany Public Library, NY

Product Details

Simon Pulse
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820L (what's this?)
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

You could tell something was different about Juliet the moment she stepped out of that truck. She was wearing a yellow summer dress and her hair was pulled back so that you could see her cheekbones and her straight nose and the blazing eyes that used to make all the boys crazy in high school. I don’t know how to explain it, but she seemed smug in some way I’d never seen before. Like she had this satisfying little secret. Like something had been decided by her and her alone. She held her head as if she were the period at the end of her own sentence.

We knew Juliet was coming home; we just didn’t know she’d be bringing someone else with her, or several someone elses, depending on how you counted. Hayden’s dog, Zeus—he was one of those people-like dogs; he listened hard and looked at you with knowing in his eyes, even if two minutes later he’d decide to zip around the living room, slightly crazed, ears pinned back, taking the corners around the furniture like he was in his own private race with lesser dogs.

When the truck door slammed outside, Mom looked out the window and gave a little It’s her! squeal and we hurried outside. The afternoon was just right warm—a May day that could have been a role model for all May days, and the air smelled wet and grassy because Mrs. Saint George across the street had turned her sprinkler on. The truck was one of those old kinds with the big wide front that could slam into a tree and still come out smiling its chrome smile. Juliet stepped out and she was all sunbeams in that dress. She was wet grass, and summer, and sunbeams, same as that day was. The thing about sunbeams, though … Well, it might sound unkind. You’ve got to know that I loved my sister very much even if our relationship was complicated (and, anyway, aren’t love and complications basically words partnered forever, like salt and pepper and husband and wife?). But a straight shot of sun directed at a mirror can set things on fire. Juliet and I had learned this ourselves when we were kids one August day on the sidewalk in front of our house. When I was seven (and, honestly, nine and twelve and fourteen), I’d have held that mirror toward the sun for days even if nothing had happened, just because she’d told me to.

Mom ran across the lawn to hug Juliet like she hadn’t seen her in years even though it had only been five months since she’d been home last, three since Mom and I had gone down to Portland, Oregon, where Juliet had gotten her big break singing four nights a week at the Fireside Room at the Grosvenor Hotel. When you saw her onstage in that sapphire gown, her head tilted back to show her long throat, smoke from some man’s cigarette circling around her like a thin wisp of fog in some old detective movie, you’d never have thought she’d come from tiny Parrish Island. Tiny and inconsequential Parrish Island, where the only important visitors were the pods of Orca whales that came every summer. You’d never have thought Juliet was a regular girl who had graduated from Parrish Island High School only the year before. Barely graduated, I might add, almost flunking Algebra II had it not been for the tutoring of her younger sister, thank you, although Mom would say Juliet had never been a regular girl.

The driver’s side door opened, and that’s when Hayden got out. I thought he was having a nice stretch before he got back in and went home, a friend doing a friend-favor, maybe. He was about twenty-three or -four, tall, with easy, tousled brown hair. He wore Levi’s with a tucked-in white T-shirt, and his jeans had a big wet spot on the leg, spilled coffee was my guess, which he was blotting with napkins.

And then he looked up at us. Or at me, because Mom didn’t even notice him. Usually I was the invisible one in any group, but he was invisible along with me then. Mom was clutching Juliet to her and then holding her away again so that Juliet’s fiery eyes could meet Mom’s blazing ones. So his eyes met only mine, and mine his, and right then my heart shifted, the way it does when something unexpected begins. There are those moments, probably few in a life, where before and after split off from each other forevermore in your mind. That was one of those moments, although I wouldn’t realize it for a long time afterward. I saw something very simple and clear there, in his eyes—that was the thing. Honesty. But with the kind of hope that was just this side of heartbreak.

He smiled at me, went around to the back of the truck. I guess anyone would have noticed the way he looked in those jeans. Of course I did. In the open pickup bed there was a big dog waiting to be let out. He was the sort of large, energetic dog that made Mom nervous. A sudden dog, and Mom didn’t like sudden things. She mistrusted squirrels and birds and men and anything that had the capacity to surprise. If she ever got a dog, she’d say, it was going to be one of those white and fluffy ones, like Ginger, the Martinellis’ dog, who looked the same as the slippers Mrs. Martinelli wore when she went to get the mail. You could put a dog like that into your purse like a lipstick and take it anywhere you wanted it to go, like women did in New York or Paris. A lipstick with a heartbeat that might pee on your checkbook, in my opinion, but this was Mom’s dream, not mine. I liked a dog you could lean against.

The dog jumped down and made a galloping leap toward Mom, and the guy in the Levi’s lunged for his collar and said, “Zeus!” in a way that was both emphatic and desperate. Zeus, it would turn out, was actually a very well-trained dog—he’d do anything for Hayden. Zeus would look at Hayden in the complete and adoring way you privately wished and wished and wished that someone, someday, might look at you. But Hayden was a good dog father and knew his boy’s limits—meeting new people turned Zeus into a toddler in the toy aisle, with the kind of joy and want that turned into manic jumping. Zeus leaped up on Mom, who was horrified to be suddenly looking at him eye to eye, and she held him off with a palm to his tan furry chest. She looked down at her clothes as if he might have made her muddy, although the ground was dry and she was only in her old cargo pants and a tank top, her hair in a sort-of bun stuck up with a pair of chopsticks.

It was then that Mom realized that Juliet had not descended alone from the heavens. She looked surprised at the unexpected visitors and the facts in front of her: this truck, not Juliet’s ancient Fiat convertible; this lanky, excited dog; this lanky, somewhat tousled and tangled guy grabbing his collar …

And that’s when we saw it. We both did, at the same moment. It caught the sun, so shiny and new was the gold. A wedding band. On the guy’s finger. We both did the same thing next, Mom and me. We looked at Juliet’s left hand. And, yes, there was one there, too. That same gold band.

My mother put her hand to her chest. I heard her gasp. And then she breathed out those two words, the ones I was feeling right then too, that multipurpose, universal expression of shock and despair.

“Oh fuck,” my mother said.

© 2010 Deb Caletti

Meet the Author

Deb Caletti is an award-winning author and National Book Award finalist. Her many books for young adults include Stay; The Nature of Jade; and Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, winner of the Washington State Book Award and the PNBA Best Book Award, and a finalist for the PEN USA Award. Her books for adults include He’s Gone and her latest release, The Secrets She Keeps. She lives with her family in Seattle.

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Six Rules of Maybe 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Chloe_Beth More than 1 year ago
The Six Rules of maybe is not your average love story. With the love triangle and the family that has been broken for years, things fall apart quickly. Caletti tries to make us see the difference between always helping others or choosing to help yourself first. Everyone¿s world is soon turned upside down and they all struggle to continue things normally. But when you continue to help others, you could be helping yourself as well. Scarlet¿s world gets rocked when her older sister, Juliet, comes home with a ring on her finger and a baby on its way, all with a guy they¿ve never heard of before. Scarlet instantly realizes that she doesn¿t only like Hayden, but she is in love with him. She attempts to tell herself that she can¿t be in love with her sister¿s husband, but it isn¿t any use. She also knows that because she loves him and her sister, she has to let him go so they can be happy. Scarlet continues to push herself farther and farther throughout the story to help others, in hope she could make their life better while hers is broken. I recommend this book to any girl in eighth grade or older who enjoys a romance novel with many twists and turns. Although the book has some language, it is an excellent example of how helping people can be good, but you also have to take time for yourself. It shows the struggles of a family and the unfairness of life. It also shows that when things are at their worse, you can choose to pull it together or sit and watch it slip farther away. This story will leave you on your toes, and never slows down. You will find yourself falling for Hayden right along with Scarlet! The ending will leave you re-reading the last paragraphs in hopes of finding answers to some unanswered questions. You may just have to some questions for yourself. Overall I loved this book and the characters. You get emotionally connected with them and begin to feel their pain as they struggle to keep a family bond. Scarlet has always put others first, but she has finally decided to enjoy something all for herself.
janeausten93 More than 1 year ago
Amazing... Just amazing. might not help much but... read it and you will see.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i didnt think i would like this book, but i was surprised on how much i liked it and how good it was. it is a slow read for my taste, but the author wrote a very good book. you should buy it and read it, just be prepared for Scarlett, the main character to fall in love with her new brother-in-law on the first page, but to give her somesupport, she never met before and hes a rele nice guy. but it wont be a weird book because she falls in love witjh him on the first page, its not that type of book, read it and youll know what i mean, its rele good.
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
I just finished this and thinking how much I love it. First book I read by this author was Nature of Jade. The summary, like this one, caught my interest. Scarlet looks out for everyone, whether its her neighbors, her friends and family. Only things get awkward when her older sister Juliet comes home not only married, but pregnant. Even more awkward when Scarlet finds she might be falling for her brother in law. The writing was well done and flowed well, making the book even better. The characters and setting was interesting. Deb Caletti is now one of my new favorite authors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must vread held me to the end
Danielle10122 More than 1 year ago
The best book in the world, and i read A LOT!! Read it teens, it will change your life!!!!!
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BirdieEEM More than 1 year ago
when i read the back of this book the thing that drew me in was the part where she falls for her sisters husband becasue i am a sucker for a good romance and all the nice stuff. it turned out to be more focused on family than romance between the main character and her sisters husband, which was actually ok with me! i found my self disapointed at some parts when things didnt go the way i hoped but at the end, for the last 10 pages i couldnt stop smileing! i love this book and it was quite a nice suprise to see how realistic this book could be BECUASUE things didnt happen how you wanted them too. the main character learned some nice leasons threw out the book too which means the reader learnes too which i always love about books (when u learn lessons and all) over all i loved this book and recomend it highly!
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