The Rules of Survival

The Rules of Survival

by Nancy Werlin


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The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin

For Matt and his sisters, life with their cruel, vicious mother is a day-to-day struggle for survival. But then Matt witnesses Murdoch coming to a child's rescue in a convenience store, and for the first time, he feels a glimmer of hope. When, amazingly, Murdoch begins dating Matt's mother, life is suddenly almost good. But the relief lasts only a short time. When Murdoch inevitably breaks up with their mother, Matt knows he needs to take action. But can he call upon his hero? Or will he have to take measures into his own hands? A heart-wrenching portrait of a family in crisis, this is Nancy Werlin's most compulsively readable novel yet.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142410714
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 03/13/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 171,637
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.78(d)
Lexile: 660L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Nancy Werlin writes YA fiction that ranges from realistic fiction to suspense to fantasy, often breaking the boundaries between genres. Her books have gathered awards too numerous to mention, but including National Book award finalist, Edgar award winner and finalist, New York Times bestseller, L.A. Book Prize finalist, and IndieBound Top Ten. Nancy's first novel, Are You Alone on Purpose, was a Publishers Weekly Flying Start pick.
Of Nancy's suspense fiction, Sarah Weinman says, "Chances are, many of you haven't heard of this author. That would be a shame, because she's simply one of the best crime novelists going right now. Period." These titles are where Nancy habitually breaks genre-separation rules and include The Rules of Survival (a National Book Award finalist), The Killer's Cousin (Edgar award winner), Locked Inside (Edgar award nominee), Black Mirror (which the Washington Post called "an edge-of-your seat thriller"), and Double Helix (named to multiple best-of-year book lists). 
Nancy's unusual fantasy fiction was inspired by the ballad Scarborough Fair and includes the loose trilogy Impossible (a New York Times bestseller), Extraordinary (featuring a rare thing in fantasy fiction: a Jewish heroine), and her personal beloved, Unthinkable. 
For fun, Nancy also writes and draws a graphic memoir in comics, using her Tumblr to self-publish an episode three times a week. 
Her favorite book in all the world is Jane Eyre. 
A graduate of Yale, Nancy lives near Boston, Massachusetts with her husband.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

One of [Werlin]Æs most deliciously harrowing works.


Edgar Award-winner Werlin delivers another suspense-filled thriller that is sure to spark discussion.

ùHorn Book

Customer Reviews

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The Rules of Survival 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 65 reviews.
readtolive_livetoread More than 1 year ago
Imagine one of your parents might viciously strike you across the face any time, without warning. This is the remarkable start-to-finish suspense Nancy Werlin builds and holds throughout The Rules of Survival. It's a patient suspense that builds on small moments of fear and terror, until the plot resolves in a solid, satisfying conclusion. The abuse Werlin describes feels very real, and I imagine the themes will be familiar to most child abuse victims. Her dialogue is natural and authentic for both the adult and child characters. All-in-all, this book is a thoughtful and compelling read I expect both adults and young adults will enjoy. Brilliant but oh, so terribly sad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Rules of Survival - A Great Book!!!!! How would you feel if you were being abused by your own parent? This answer is clearly depicted in the book "The Rules of Survival" by Nancy Werlin. Matthew, Cassie, and Emmy are three siblings who are being abused by their own mother, Nikki. They seek freeson from thier physochatic and unpredictable mother with the help of Murdoch, Aunt Bobbie, and Ben. this book shows true desperation, realistic elements and great description that makes the plot interesting. The abuse in the book feels very real and the love between the siblings is very apparent. This book is intense, interesting and emotional. I feel this book should be read by everyone. Thus, I would recommened it to everybody from a teen to an adult. One of the things that I liked about this book was the remarkable start-to-finish suspense that made the reader want to go on. I also liked how Werlin creates a very realistic image of their lives through Matthew's eyes. I also liked how she makes us seem something will get better for the kids, but it only gets worse. But the main topic of child abuse is described very well. This book tells us how difficult their lives might be for the kids who go through (or have gone through) child abuse. This book truly opens your eyes to these kind of issues going on in families today. "Rules of Survival" is truly a great book that can be read by both young adults and adults.
Jene-1 More than 1 year ago
The Rules of Survival is an amazing book even for people who do not enjoy reading. The characters have very strong and powerful personalities. Matt the eldest son is the only boy in the family he takes charge and he is well set on always protecting his younger sisters no matter whos hurting them even their own mother. Callie is the middle child but the oldest daughter she is also strong-willed and has big dreams for her future even though sometimes she is not so sure that she will be able to have one. Allie is the youngest of all the three children and she iss the main reason that Matt and Callie do not just run away because they know it will hurt her by taking her away from her mother. Murdoch he is the man that starts to change everything for the better. Then you have their mother Nikki she is the cause of all the problems. She is very abusive and sometimes her actions are very close to being fatal. NIkki is also extremly self absorbed everything must go her way at all times and if they don't thats when her anger starts. All this is why everyone even people who don't like books should go pick up this one because once you do you will not be able to set it down.
Jackixo More than 1 year ago
Truly, Rules of Survival has become one of my all time favorites. It has heartache, desperation, and longing. It is truly at great story. This story is writing with passion. Nancy Werlin is truly a beautiful, inspiring author with a knack of how to capture the reader. The story takes twists and turns, but never gets you lost in the whinding down of the family, and the whinding back up of the survival of the kids. Nikki, is definitely not someone I would want to be around. Her character is detailed to the finest ability. As for the kids, I felt I was with them, going through thwir journey. It was that descriptive and heartfelt. I truly felt for them and teared up a couple of times. Great novel.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
So why tell us a story? Is it to entertain, to enlighten, to get it off the storyteller’s mind or to put the story into words to make it believable? To Matthew, the oldest of the three children living under the roof of a mother who is an unstable, abusive parent, he writes the story in diary format to his younger sister and the reason for his writing became more profound as he matures in the story. This story will shake your world as the drama unfolds and your emotions will churn as you read what happens to Matthew and his sisters at the hands of his own mother, his Nikki. The commitment that Matthew had to his sisters was touching and had to be an emotional drain on him but he had great strength, from within. I don’t want to disclose much more about the cast of characters but they played their part and at times, I wanted more from them but in the end, I realized the book stood on its own because of what they did. What I really liked was Matthew writing about all the times she left them alone. Matthew talked about the “homecomings.” “I was the director of our theater, arranging the stage set, telling you and Callie to take your places, prompting you to do or say this or that, whisper-feeding you lines of dialogue and bits of business, “Don’t forget to hug her! Go get her some Advil and a glass of water, fast……..Stop stomping around, she’ll go ballistic.”” Wow, what a way for these kids to live every day.
PageTurnerX More than 1 year ago
This wonderful book took me just hours to read because it was so great. The book is a heart-breaking story, told by Matt, a teenager who desperately attempts to protect his little sisters from their unpredictable, abusive, and just plain crazy mother, Nikki. Nikki has been getting her way forever because she is beautiful, and she manages to control everything still because of this. When Nikki gets her first serious boyfriend in years, she tries to control herself, and the kids experience happiness. But when Nikki's boyfriend breaks up with her, the children's lives are shattered once again into something even worse than before, in which even Matt cannot stop Nikki from hurting his five-year-old sister. When no one will reach out and help, the children have to remember the rules of survival.
greengirl09 More than 1 year ago
This book was really interesting. I always find myself engaging in thrilling books that often include child abuse or other unfortunate happenings. Matthew does an extroadanary job telling Emmy, his little sister, all about their past with their "crazy" mother. She definitely needed psychological help, but she did not get it. The interpersonal relationships were amazing. The way Ben, a passive, frightened father of Callie an Matt stepped in along with their Aunt Bobbie and Murdoch, Nikki's old boyfriend, really shows how one small change can change somebody's life for the better. This book is definitely a great read. I encourage everybody to try it. The thrills and mysteries and suspense around every corner will make this book difficult to put down!!!
JennaF More than 1 year ago
Nancy Werlin wrote the book, The Rules of Survival. The book was very good and always had exciting moments. There was never a time you wanted to put the book down. The Rules of Survival was written to grab your attention and wanted to keep you reading and never want to stop. In the book many crazy things happened. Nikki was the abusive mother of the three Walsh children, Matt, the oldest, Callie, the middle child, and Emmy the youngest child. The story begins when Nikki is dating this nice man named Murdoch, who later on breaks up with her. Matt wants a way out of an abusive household, so Matt tracks him down to see if he can help him and his sisters. Murdoch does not give him help, so Matt decides to take it into his own hands to help his sisters and him be safe and away from their abusive mother. Matt goes through intense obstacles and makes very important decisions to help him and his sisters finally get away from their cruel mother. I thought the book was very interesting and intense. I felt like the book always grabbed your attention, and you never wanted to put the book down because there was always an intense moment that was about to happen. Nancy Werlin did a great job writing this book, she made it intense, interesting, emotional, physical, and attention grabbing. I feel this way because the book was supposed to relate to people who go through the same thing as what Matt went through in the book. All the effects of child abuse are told in the story and you can see the effects it has on the characters. I also think this because it shows the reader how intense and important it is to be safe and to get out of a bad situation like Matt had to do. Just like reality you have to make hard decisions, Matt had to support his sisters while living with an abusive mother. He made very difficult decisions just to stay alive. "I've lived all my life to protect me and my sisters." This statement is true from the story because Matt's main responsibility was to protect his sisters. "Sometimes I felt all alone, but in the back of my mind I knew I had to do it for my sisters and life." "I knew when I had Nikki on the ground I had to take advantage of my opportunity to protect myself." These are quotes at the end of the book. The end of the book is the best part of the book. The book's plot was very good and had a good meaning for the readers. The writing style is like a journal to the readers. Characters in this book are all different and unique. This message of the book is to tell people that you should be grateful for having parents that love you. Also, that it is very hard to live with someone who abuses you and having to make life or death decisions. I would recommend this book to boys and girls who like intense books. I would rate The Rules of Survival four stars. This book is a must read and gives the readers a look on reality and how abuse can happen to anyone.
TigerLMS on LibraryThing 6 days ago
Matt is 18 years old and a high school graduate when, looking back on the last few years, he decides to write a journal to his younger sister Emmie about how their mother mistreated them and their sister Callie. The entire novel is told in this epistilary format, with occassional side comments directly to Emmie from Matt about events that occurred several years prior. The story itself begins when Matt and Callie witnessed an adult stranger named Murdock sticking up for a boy he didn't know when the boy's father physically abused him in a market. Matt and Callie had been suffering through their own abuse at the hands of their mother Nicky, who very frequently left her kids home alone to fend for themselves, sometimes for days at a time. Matt sees Murdock as a saviour, someone to save him and his sisters from their wicked, mean-spirited mother. However, he learns that things are never as simple as they seem, and his mother is much more wicked and evil than he ever imagined.This book disturbed me because I'm not a fan of books with child abuse as a thematic element. Trust me-- I know it happens all too frequently. I've just read so many books on this same topic that it starts to feel like just one more depressing 'Child Called It' wannabe (I didn't like that one, either). However, Werlin gives us a good dose of what life with Nicky is like, but doesn't continually drag us through the muck. Instead, we root for the three kids' survival and watch as they carefully plan their escapes. I don't plan to book talk this much in my library, but I expect it will be rather popular with teenagers based on the success of others of this theme.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have evr read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutely amazing. You can really put yourself in the characters shoes and understand some of the situations and environment that some children do have to live and grow up in. Those of you who grew up in loving homes, this book will open your eyes and not only inform you of an example of a poor living home for children but also to help you understand how these children live. I, on the other hand, grew up in a environment and situation very similar to the one displayed in this novel. It really does give you a reality of what its like to grow up with abusive and neglective parents. some areas of this book, in my opinion are less than realistic but this novel really pulls you in and displays living in such a way better than any other book I have read myself. The author also had an absolutely amazing way of emotionally pulling you into the novel and feeling the feelings that are being felt throughout the book.
Tally-Wa More than 1 year ago
I read this book in middle school and didn't give it much of a second thought. Now I am in college and I remembered it. This book left a strong impression in me about abuse, the people who deal with it, and the power we have to move beyond things. This is a riveting story from start to finish. The characters are powerful and well-written, I remember Matt to this day because of his protective nature, and Callie, because of her dreams. This is a beautiful book about three children who find that adults are not always the bad guy, and that they have the power to stand up for themselves. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yes it maybe shocking and scary at times but over all its one of the best books i have ever read this type of book is my favorite ganrae
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is twisted. But not as twisted as their mother. The only reason i give it three stars is because as twisted it is i wanted to know what happends next
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reading this book now amd it is really good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KSMG More than 1 year ago
Matthew, Callie, and their half-sister, Emmy, live in a world of fear. They are ruled by it, controlled by it, they live their life by it. It's what keeps them safe, most of the time. Safe from their mother. Safe from Nikki. Nikki, their mother, has issues. She only comes home at two or three in the morning, often drunk. She brings home men, she swears. She's obsessive about her children's love- they must love her, and only her, or they will pay. They will be sorry. She will take her revenge. It's not the only think that Nikki can be obsessive about, Matthew and his siblings learn. When Matthew and Callie track down a mysterious Murdoch, that Matthew saw in a store, their mother takes control. Within weeks, Murdoch and Nikki are dating, and life seems amazing for the three children. Until it happens. When Nikki goes psycho in front of Murdoch, he dumps her, and the children's lives are thrown in to chaos. It's back to the old mother, but worse. And when Nikki starts obsessing over Murdoch, Matthew knows they have to get away. Fast. I really liked this book, for a couple of reasons. First of all, I really liked the characters. Matthew, the narrator, was interesting. He had his own realistic, normal, yet very heroic, mind set. I could identify with him, yet at the same time I sort of looked up to him as a role model. I like main characters like that. The book was written in the form of a very, very long letter from Matthew to his half sister, Emmy. As such, it has some detours, footnotes from Matthew, and it's written in the sort of way that you would expect a letter to be written. He's talking to Emmy, and it shows. I like that. It doesn't feel unrealistic. Third of all... Nikki was evil. I found myself completely living in fear of her myself, at least while I was reading the book. She was... unpredictable, and I think the author did a very good job of making her act in the way you expected her to, as Nikki. All in all, a very excellent book.
Joceyxs More than 1 year ago
This book is touching. Once you start to read it you can't stop. The way the author describes the abuse and things that are happening in the book is really detailed. This book is basically about a boy name Matt who's trying to tell his sister what is happening in her life when she was younger. How Matt and her other sister Callie is trying to protect her when she was younger from their mother who abuses them
HthrHB More than 1 year ago
Think of when your parents grew up and when said they loved you. Now change the meaning of love so it just covers up all the hurt and pain. Would your parents kidnap you to get a point across? That is what Matt and his two sisters, Callie and Emma, dealt with since they were born. As pre-teen Matt and Callie had to deal with an unstable single mother and protect their younger sister. They never knew when Nikki, the mother, would come home or with who. Most of the time they didn’t even know boyfriend’s name, but they knew it would only last a few weeks. They didn’t see any of them as hero’s until they met Murdoch. Matt and Callie worked together so that Murdoch would get them to freedom. This book puts you in the shoes that you probably never walked in and never want to walk into again. It a great book to read between the lines, but not too easy that there is no thinking involved. Making you think of multiple sides of the story not just one. It’s a great book for people into suspense, mystery and a little bit of drama.
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