Breaking the Rules, by Emma Leigh Reid
Publication: ELR Publishing; November 13, 2018
About the book:
Isabelle LaFayette tries to end her own life. Her failed attempt haunts her, along with her other past regrets and the inability to forgive herself, for what her mother calls a selfish act.
Jack Riley comes into Isabelle’s life and makes her feel alive, but believing she doesn’t deserve to be happy, she pushes him away. She must find the inner strength to confront the true source of her pain, or she’ll never be released from the bondage she’s encased herself in.
Isabelle needs to give herself permission to heal and break the rules that have been imprisoning her. It is the only way for her to find ultimate freedom from the past and piece her heart back together again.
Wow, talk about a hard book to review… Yes, I liked it, but damn the ending…
Isabelle (Izzy) attempts suicide at 18 and it is swept under the rug and not discussed by her parents. At a time where she feels no hope or happiness, she meets Jack and suddenly feels alive again. But her guilt about feeling happy leads to her pushing him away, and she moves on with her life.
Seven years later, she has moved to Virginia and is a junior editor at a publishing house. Her job is her life, but then she meets Nick. Nick is wonderful, fabulous, and as close to perfect as a man can get. But Izzy is still holding onto the idea of Jack. She is still paralyzed by her suicide attempt and how it was never dealt with. Seeking help from a counselor, Izzy begins to make progress, she learns incredible things about her family, and she tries to feel o.k. again.
After finishing this novel tonight, I looked at some other reviews, none of which mentioned the ending. I hate to start with that, however, being true to the typical reviews that I write, this is not a novel that wraps everything up into a perfect little package. I am sitting here now, hours after reading, wondering what happened next. The author eludes to a sense of inner-peace for Izzy, which, it’s about time, but I need more closure in what I read unless it’s a clear-cut cliffhanger and I will get more if I read the next in the series. But I don’t even know if this is a series.
Despite my discontent with the ending, Emma Leigh Reid has written such a raw and honest novel that I’m not sure I can find the words to convey the beauty of it all. Izzy is real, broken, has issues, etc. Whether she’s being a workaholic, drinking too much, not sleeping, or trying to use Nick for sex – Reid has written a brutally honest character that I found amazing, addictive, and compelling. Unfortunately, I was able to identify with several of her issues regarding her mother, as well as, issues surrounding her feelings of not being deserving of happiness in her life. Bad mothers can do a number on you, trust me, I know.
But what I loved was how things weren’t sugar-coated. As a reader, I knew when Izzy was trying to be evasive, when she was down-playing her emotions, and when she straight-up just refused to deal with and/or think about any of it. I commend the author for writing something so honest, regardless of whether it became uncomfortable or awkward. Which again, brings me back to some other reviews I’ve read, especially one describing this as a quick and easy read. I did not in any way find this a quick or easy read because of the emotion and depth of the writing. And until the ending, I had decided this was one of the best books I’ve read in quite awhile.
I remember during my undergrad and graduate years reading novels, most of them considered the “classics,” and I’ve always struggled with ambiguous endings. One of the big ones that comes to mind is Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. I had to re-read the ending several times before I understood what she had done. I kept thinking that I was just left hanging and it frustrated me to death. For me personally, I either need closure or some distinct direction about their being a follow-up novel. This is the only thing I disliked about Breaking the Rules. Besides that, I think that Reid has written something with incredible depth, enormous life lessons, and appealing to a variety of readers.
*Thanks to NetGalley and ELR Publishing for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review!
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