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The Unwritten Rule

The Unwritten Rule

3.8 163
by Elizabeth Scott

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He's looking at me like—well, like he wants to look at me.
Like he likes what hes sees, and he's smiling and hiw eyes are so blue, even in the faint flow of the porch light they shine, and I nod dumbly, blindly, and then grope for the door handle, telling myself to look away and yet not able to do it.

"Sara," he says, softly, almost


He's looking at me like—well, like he wants to look at me.
Like he likes what hes sees, and he's smiling and hiw eyes are so blue, even in the faint flow of the porch light they shine, and I nod dumbly, blindly, and then grope for the door handle, telling myself to look away and yet not able to do it.

"Sara," he says, softly, almost hesitantly, and my heart slam-bangs, beating hard, and this is what it's like to want someone you can't have. To want someone you shouldn't even be looking at.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
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. (Fiction. 14 & up)
From the Publisher
Scott (the reigning mistress of smart yet classically heart-wrenching romance) expands...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 for Children's Books, May 2010
VOYA - Kristin Fletcher-Spear
Sarah likes Ryan. Has for years. Ryan is dating Brianna, Sarah's best friend. Sarah avoids Ryan, hides her feelings, and wallows in her guilt for desiring him. Then one night he drives her home alone, and they kiss. Now she is torn between wanting to be with Ryan and not wanting to hurt Brianna. Scott has written a fabulously authentic voice in Sarah. Every girl who has been torn by betraying the unwritten rule in friendship will hear her own thoughts echoed in Sarah's. In a meandering path, Scott brings the readers back and forth in time from eighth grade, when Sarah first begins liking Ryan, to their senior year throughout Brianna and Ryan's relationship, to the current dilemma of Sarah and Ryan wanting to be with one another without hurting Brianna. The love-triangle characters are well developed: Sarah is mousey with loving parents, Brianna is the tragically unloved teen who mimics her mother's behaviors in all of her relationships, and Ryan is the boy who will tear them apart. The ending, while tidy, is realistic. This is a thoroughly enjoyable chick lit title that will appeal to readers of Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti. Reviewer: Kristin Fletcher-Spear
Lauren Wiygul
Seventeen-year-old Sarah has been best friends with Brianna forever, but when she starts liking Brianna's boyfriend, their friendship takes a turn for the worse. Sarah knows the Unwritten Rule: "You don't like your best friend's boyfriend." But she can't help but think of him looking at her, holding her hand, and kissing her. Through the eyes and mind of Sarah, Elizabeth Scott tells the honest and realistic story of how high school dating can be complicated and confusing. Sarah has always been the quiet one who never stands up for herself, while Brianna is the outspoken one who gets what she wants. When something happens between Sarah and Ryan one night, Sarah has to live with the guilt of going behind her best friend's back. Does she continue liking her best friend's boyfriend or does she forget about him in order to save her friendship? Reviewer: Lauren Wiygul
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—The unwritten rule is plain: "You don't like your best friend's boyfriend." But Sarah does. She likes Ryan a lot, and she has for a very long time. They share a moment at a party, but the next thing she knows, he belongs to Brianna. Then one night, something happens that Sarah can't take back and doesn't want to. She feels guilty, she doesn't want to hurt her friend, but she can't stop thinking about Ryan, either. Character development drives this novel. There isn't much plot, and the opening chapters are a little hard to follow, but the characters are fully realized and their motivation is clear. However, the tone of the writing is more suited to an adult novella than to YA fiction. A slow read that is all too easy to put down and forget about.—Julianna M. Helt, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA

Product Details

Simon Pulse
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
5.38(w) x 8.26(h) x 0.64(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Unwritten Rule

By Elizabeth Scott

Simon Pulse

Copyright © 2010 Elizabeth Scott
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781416978916


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.

? 2010 Elizabeth Spencer


Brianna and Ryan are kissing. I try not to notice, but when you?re the only person in the room who isn?t wrapped around someone else, it?s kind of hard not to. Also, the movie Brianna has picked is one I?ve seen before.

More than once.

Thirty-seven times, to be exact.

I know it?s a lot, but Brianna really likes it, and it?s better than what?s on at my house, which is either the news or old sitcoms?Dad?s favorites?or DVDs Mom?s made from footage of her in different cooking contests. Since she entered the Fabulous Family Cook-Off, she?s been ?studying? herself at other cook-offs to see how she can ?improve her prep work.?

Yes, I have watched my mother watch herself chopping onions. And then watched her critique herself on it.

So you can see why I?d rather watch a movie and why, as of right now, I?m on viewing thirty-seven of ?girl meets boy, girl falls for boy, boy falls for girl, then boy gets cancer and dies while girl is brave and only cries once, at the end, as the boy says, ?I?ll wait for you,? and then dies.?

I admit, I cried the first time I saw it. And the second. But by the third time, I started to wonder about the girl?s best friend, who shows up at periodic intervals throughout the movie to support the girl, usually by providing ice cream and/or doing something stupid-silly like catching her skirt in the door and tugging until she tears herself out of it. She also sings to an umbrella at one point.

Anyway, by the third time through, I started wondering about the best friend. How come she has to be klutzy and wacky? Doesn?t she get tired of being supportive and eating ice cream? (Well, maybe not so much on the last thing.)

What?s the best friend?s life really like? She must do something when she isn?t losing her skirt or saying, ?Oh, you?re so brave!?

So far, the best friend has been the following?at least in my mind:

?a secret heroin user (that was the week Ryan took Brianna to the awesome indie film about the model who stayed skinny by shooting heroin and how everyone told her how fabulous she looked right up until she died. I ended up going with them because Brianna said she wanted someone to talk to when she got bored. So I listened to her guess who was going to win the new date-a-rockstar reality show episode where all the girls have to try to fry an egg naked without burning themselves. But what I saw of the movie was great, and I went back and saw it with my mother later. She said it was ?depressing,? but at least I got to see the whole thing.)

?a spy (because hi, obvious awesome plot!)

?a superhero who is trying to save the world while keeping her disguise as a mild-mannered klutz (another obvious but awesome plot)

?in love with the boy, who loves her back, and they have secret meetings?when the girl is in one of her musical montages?and the boy tells the best friend he really wants her, but doesn?t want to hurt the girl, and the best friend agrees because she?s really a good person in spite of the fact that she?s totally into her best friend?s boyfriend.

That last one is?well, I try not to think about it, but I do.

I do because I can see it happening?in the movie, I mean?and the best friend is a nice person. Really, she is. She can?t help the way she feels about the guy.

She really can?t. Trust me on this one. I might be ?

Oh, forget it. I am. I?m that girl. The one who likes her best friend?s boyfriend. In the world of friendship, I?m awful. Everyone knows the unwritten rule: You don?t like your best friend?s boyfriend.

I know that, I do, and I don?t want to like Ryan. He?s Brianna?s boyfriend. She?s crazy about him. If I turned my head a little, I could see them kissing. I know they?re together. I know it?s BriannaandRyan now.

I don?t look at them. I don?t need the reminder that they?re together.

And besides, I know that if I look it?ll hurt too much.

So I watch the movie. Maybe the best friend is secretly an assassin from the future, and has come back through time to make sure an evil scientist is stopped before he destroys mankind.

A sofa throw pillow hits me in the head, and since I know who did it, I say, ?Hey, Brianna, what if I miss what?s going to happen next??

Brianna laughs and I make myself look back at her.

She grins at me, lips not attached to Ryan any longer. ?So, are you coming with us tonight or what??

I pretend to stretch so I can look at the clock. It?s only ten. Too early to say I have to go home. I?ll have to make up a reason why I can?t go with her. Them.

?I can?t. Mom wants me to get up at five tomorrow and go shopping with her. She?s doing another test run of her recipes in case she gets the call.?

?Why do you have to go?? Brianna says.

?My dad can?t because of his hip, and she wants someone there to help.?

This is a lie. My mother doesn?t need help when she?s grocery shopping. She knows every grocery store in a fifty-mile radius like she knows our house. She knows who gets produce in when, which stores get the newest products first, and which ones are open late in case inspiration strikes and she wants to make something at 10 p.m.

Mom is intensely, fiercely focused on creating recipes. She enters cooking contests all the time, and has ?placed? in four, which is cook-off lingo for coming in second or third?which everyone, even Mom, says they?re happy about, but isn?t.

Mom wants to win a cook-off. I know she does. She likes cooking, she likes making up recipes, but she also enters seemingly every single cook-off there is. She keeps it pretty low-key?especially compared to some of the other ?contesters? I?ve met?but it?s there and it drives her to keep going.

She?s always had that drive, I think. I mean, there?s a reason I quickly learned to play Go Fish with Dad and not her when I was little?with Dad, I at least won sometimes.

This year she?s sent in?and is now practicing?twenty recipes for the Fabulous Family Cook-Off. This is a low number in the contesting world, at least among the diehards, but Mom decided the key was to really focus on ?just a few dishes.? Dad and I have been eating them for a while now because she wants to be ready when (my mother doesn?t believe in ?if? when it comes to cook-offs) she gets the call.

Unfortunately, Brianna knows all of this, and that?s the problem with having a best friend who?s known you since you were five. Twelve years of friendship mean Brianna knows almost everything about me and my family.

?She doesn?t need you to go,? Brianna says. ?She knows where everything is in every grocery store around here, and besides, she?s never needed your help shopping before. She has a system and everything.? (Brianna?s right, Mom does. She can find anything in any store in a minute, tops, and probably blindfolded to boot.)

But, of course, this doesn?t help with the excuse thing at all.

?Maybe Sarah doesn?t want to go to the party,? Ryan says, looking at the framed photo of Brianna that Brianna?s hung on the far wall. I took it last year, when I signed up for Photography thinking it would be an easy A.

It was a very hard B-, with a lot of bad photos on my part, but the picture of Brianna is a good one. She?s sitting on her front steps, looking off into the distance, and I?d messed with the timer and the speed so much that I accidentally managed to get myself in the shot as I was running back to the camera to see if it was still working. I turned out as a smudge, a sort of blur of motion, but Brianna is perfectly still, perfectly captured. I messed around with the photo a little and got Brianna to almost glow in it, pushed the blur that was me into a ghostly shimmer.

?She wants to go,? Brianna says to Ryan, and then nudges me with a foot. ?I hear Tommy might be there.?

I shrug. Tommy is in my English and Chemistry classes, and he?s sweet. He?s also hopelessly in love with Brianna.

However, unlike most of the guys who are hopelessly in love with Brianna, he knows he has no chance with her. So he has decided he likes me. Today, in school, he asked me if I was going to be at the party tonight, and I watched him start to ask if Brianna was coming too and then stop, remember she has a boyfriend.

I watched him remember he was supposed to like me.

?You don?t think he?s cute?? Brianna says.

?He?s okay.? He is. He?s okay. He has eyes and a nose and a mouth and hair that doesn?t look like it was cut by a lawn mower and his clothes aren?t hideous and he doesn?t smell or spit when he talks.

?So, come with us. There?s always room in Ryan?s car, you know. The whole school could fit in his car. Which is fine! Great!? She rolls her eyes at me.

I smile, because there is always room in Ryan?s car. He drives a station wagon, and Brianna hates it. She wants Ryan to ask his parents for a new car, and has since they started going out a little over six weeks ago.

?I like my car,? Ryan says, and glances at me.

I let myself look at him for just a second, get a glimpse of dark hair, bright, intense eyes (so blue you?d swear they came straight from the sky on a hot summer day, the kind of day where even the clouds have burned away), and the tiny scar that cuts across the corner of his right eyebrow that he got during a soccer match back in seventh grade.

?I can?t go,? I say. ?I mean, I can, but I?m tired and I had to eat Cheesy Corn and Rice Casserole for dinner again and my stomach hurts?I mean, it?s the fourth night in a row I?ve had to eat it?so I?d rather just go home and??

?Pleeeeeeease,? Brianna says.

?I?m too full of corn and rice to be any fun.?

?You?re full of something all right,? she says, shaking her head, and then sighs. ?Fine. Go home, leave me and Ryan all by ourselves at the party.?

?You?ll have fun,? I say.

?I know,? she says. ?I just like it if you?re there. I always like it if you?re there.?

I look at Ryan again, one last quick glance before I go.

He?s looking at me, and for a second, one crazy second before I stand up and smile and say goodbye and good night and walk out to my car, I think about what it would be like to be the one sitting next to him.

? 2010 Elizabeth Spencer


Excerpted from The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott Copyright © 2010 by Elizabeth Scott. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

ELIZABETH SCOTT grew up in a town so small it didn't even have a post office, though it did boast an impressive cattle population. She's sold hardware and panty hose and had a memorable three-day stint in the dot-com industry, where she learned that she really didn't want a career burning CDs. She lives just outside Washington, D.C., with her husband, and firmly believes you can never own too many books.

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The Unwritten Rule 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 159 reviews.
moviebunny More than 1 year ago
I LOVE LOVE LOVED it! From the moment I picked it up, I couldn't put it down-I read it through in one sitting! It was sooooo good!-Completely heart-wrenching-Sarah and Brianna have typical teenage relationships, concerns, and insecurities; but instead of becoming teenage stereotypes, Elizabeth Scott created characters that felt so real they could just as well have been me or my own friends and family. I think everyone can relate to having a crush on someone who's unavailable, the premise of the story. I love that this is the "best friend's" story-because as a character, she doesn't usually get a chance to tell her story, which is funny considering that most people would probably relate better to the insecure Sarah, than to a beautiful, confident, popular Brianna. Interestingly enough, Brianna's character is just as real as Sarah's, and her story is just as relatable; their common insecurities become the catalyst for both the beginning and the end of their friendship. I was on the edge of my seat, hoping throughout that Sarah would finally get the guy, but not being able to turn away from the impending train-crash of her friendship with Brianna. I've felt the tug-of-war in Sarah and Brianna's friendship, many times in my own friendships-Neither of the girls is perfect; instead, they are human, and their friendship is real, made up of the little slips and accidental insults, and taking each other for granted, combined with force of habit, and those special moments that form our most valuable friendships-It's amazing how much we can overlook for the bond of an important friendship-but not boys; that's where girls draw the line, and where they have to make their choices. It's easy to wonder how many girls might have missed out on the chance of true love, when it's at the cost of a friendship-How many of us are that brave? I also found relationships with the parents really touching. I, myself, was lucky like Sarah, in having very loving, caring parents. But I also saw enough of my friends who weren't so lucky; both those that were divorced, and some still married. Parents who DID love their children, and raised them, but after eighteen years, that was it, as if they were done. Parents who seemed to turn into acquaintances, who wished my friends the best of luck and that was that. I saw their relationships from Sarah's side, and felt sorry for them. It was such a vivid dynamic, seeing how Brianna's parents put their own problems and insecurities on her, how scared and confused it made her feel, and then to see her both fight against her fear of becoming and ending up like her parents, and subconsciously mimic their behaviors as defense mechanisms. I was blown away by the depth of the story, and at the end, the only question I could think of was, "Why hadn't I heard of this author before???"
Nova Kief More than 1 year ago
From the sample, the book seemed promising so I went and bought it. I soon realized I hated the author's style of writing everything as if it were a grocery list. Brianna is annoying and so is Sarah. They're polar opposites to an extreme. One is too pathetic, the other could never make friends irl with her attitude. The love story was mediocre and the friendship a wreck. I'd save my money if I could.
DanceBree17 More than 1 year ago
The title is true, there is always an unwritten rule that you dont fall for your best friends boyfriend. Elizabeth Scott has put together an amazing book that deals with Sarah, her best friend Brianna, and the guy that Brianna likes, Ryan. But Sarah really liked Ryan a few years back and truthfully always had a crush on him. Those feelings are tossed around even more since Brianna started dating Ryan and she has to endure hanging out with the two of them and not speak her mind. A side story is the terrible home life that Brianna has. Her parents divorce has not been an easy one and lately she has beguin to feel like an object rather than a person. Her deep desire to hold onto something and make love happen is what keeps her with Ryan, even though she admits to Sarah she was kissing another boy. I hate Brianna's character for being so condescending to her friend. But I cant fault her because it was her environment at home, and you really can see how its rubbed off on Brianna. The whole book is tied up in Sarah's conflicted feelings of loving her best friends boyfriend from afar, and her desire to tell her, and head off a conflict. The ending is so painful to read, and more than once I found myself crying. Ms. Scott does a great job of making the dialog between all the characters really feel real and never contrived. In so many ways, the book rings true for me. Sarah has always lived in the shadow of the pretty, popular Brianna. And guys always would be close to Sarah, but only to get closer to Brianna, and she always hated that. This is all about sometimes doing the wrong thing, but in the end you are being true to your feelings, and it really being the right thing to do.
omgitslykchristy More than 1 year ago
Ok so my friend recommended this book to me and so i read it and...i really didn't like it. I didn't like the writing that much (it had a lot of phrases, which just bothered me for some reason). Sarah was not that well developed and it was annoying that she never really stuck up for herself and never said what she wanted to. I didn't like Ryan because he could have prevented everything in the very beginning, and then finally, although the ending was realistic, i didn't like it. I guess if you are just really bored and are looking for a quick read, this will suffice. All together, this book just annoyed me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So ive read Elizabeth Blooms other books and they were good, but this one...it just wasnt up to par. I felt like shoouting at sarah to grow a spine and tell brianna that sometimes here comments made her feel bad. I know i would! I actually have a friend like that. Were great friends,but if we think the other is wrong, we let them know. But not in a mean way, just like offering your opinion. I just thought she should do the same. Also, i was hoping that everything with ryan would happen earlier on in the book so they could develop further as themselves.
mkmtt More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was pretty good it just didn't really capture my interest. I felt like it sort of kept repeating itself, and it went on for long. I guess what im trying to say is that it dragged. Regardless it was a good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read two of Elizabeth Scott's books Perfect You and Bloom and I really enjoyed it. So I was really excited to read this book when I got it from the library, especially since I thought the plot sounded really interesting. But in reality, I felt like this book kept reapting itself for about the first 100 pages. Yes, Sarah had a huge crush on Ryan, but I felt like Scott kept going on and on about that, with only a few plot twisters thrown in there. This book really didn't even reach its climax until the last 30 pages of theb book. I thought it was an okay book, but I would recommend borrowing it from the library instead of buying it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok, usually i like this authir but I found this book kinda boring and predictable. The characters were pretty nively developed but the girls best friends often was annoying. Especially after I figured out that she went out with the guy even after she knew her best friend liked him... Like seriously who does that. Then in the end when the main character finally got the guy of her dreams, best friend was angry and calling her swear words which I found totally and completely not needed. And i one of my best friens went out with the guy I liked and she knew BEFORE going ot with him and still did it we would nor be friends anymore. Amd if that was the case in this story, there would nor even be a story. Dissapointed:(
Adollpuppet More than 1 year ago
The characters really ruin a story that had great potential. I do not want to ruin the story for those who want to attempt the easy read, but I do not tecommend it.
BooksaremypieceofHeaven More than 1 year ago
I read this book in one sitting; I devoured it in a few hours. I will definitely be reading more from this author.
Mary-Anne Reyes More than 1 year ago
I could barely get into this book. It seemed completely repetitive and lacked any sort of climax at all. I only finished it for the sake of me purchasing it. Had to read several other books in between just to break the monotony. Dont waste your money!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book. I finished this book in one sitting and it only took me a couple of hours. I could not put it down and I was sad when it was over. Elizabeth Scott does a wonderful job of capturing a teenage triangle with intense realism. I remember kids being mean and confused like this and it took me back to that place I am so happy to not be a part of anymore! She captures the mean girl, but gives the background behind what made her so callous and insecure. She captures the side kick friend, who grows into her own new person while trying to to make things right. She captures the shy boy who wants something but doesn't know how to get it, without making mistakes. A wonderful a quick read. I plan on reading the rest of Elizabeth Scott's books.
SabH-CrystalReviews More than 1 year ago
I just love her writing! It inspires me so much because she makes you really feel everything, it's like you momentarily vanish form your body into the character's skin! This was such a sweet book and such a nice topic to explore because, even though it's sort of cliche, it keeps on happening often. And I don't think it will ever stop happening. The way Scott writes about it though, is about much more than just falling for your best-friend's boy. The Unwritten Rule is also about family, parents, true friends and many issues. A very short and light read but filled with numerous types of emotions. The characters were incredibly real, I loved Sarah! The cover is beyond gorgeous, I fell in love with it from the first time I saw it, which was weird since I don't find feet appealing at all, but the sweetness and the purple background makes it irresistible to watch. Its one of those covers that when you see it in the shelf, you just have to pick it up. If you like sweet love stories, if you're a contemporary or Dessen fan, or if you've enjoyed Scott's books, you will love this one too!
KYRA14 More than 1 year ago
loved this book. I'll read it and then between books re-read it. Sarah is a strong character who's sadly unaware of her own strength. Ryan is a great male character who like most teen boys go along with a pretty face instead of his heart
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I only read it because my friend recommenxed not reading it. And so, like the rebellious person I am, I read this book. And I seriously regretted it. The characters were too underdeveloped, and I was expecting simething more funnier and interesting. Im glad I didnt buy it because this wouldve been a disaster. There were too many paragraphs and the author kept reating the phrases. Did I mention that the characters were immature in handling their problems? This book was meant for an immature college student. The author should really make it more appropriate and matured for high school+ people. Overall: DO NOT BUY.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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I did not like this book at all i found my self hating all the people in it
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from the moment i started reading this book i could not put it down. though the characters were annoying at times and i absolutely hated the ending. it was well written and stopped me from doing something stupid