Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The Rule of Threes

Campbell, Marcy. Rule of Threes
May 11th 2021 by Chronicle Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Maggie enjoys her calm, steady family life with just her parents. She also has two good friends, Olive and Rachel, who join her in her love of design. Maggie particularly enjoys staging rooms, and has quite a box of thrift and dollar store props, so when the school announces a decorating contest, she is super excited. The girls get to work on the office, and Maggie studies the space, talks to the secretaries, and puts in a lot of work to make improve the space. At the same time, things are not going well at home. Her father has another child-- a son born before he married Maggie's mom. When Tony's mother must go to rehab due to a pain killer addiction, he ends up having to move in with his father's family. Maggie doesn't mind that too much, but her parents do start to argue a bit more. In addition, her grandmother is showing signs of rapidly progressing dementia, and her mother is very occupied trying to find a facility for her, and dealing with her grandmother's negative reaction to the move. Things do get so bad that the grandmother moves in with the family. This causes more tension, but Maggie very nicely offers to give up her own room for Tony, since he has had so much upheaval in his life. His mother is having trouble staying in rehab, and when he gets a call that she has left, he is bound to travel back to their home and make sure she's okay. Maggie agrees to go with him, since she is suspended due to an incident involving the decorating contest, and has the presence of mine to steal Narcan from the school clinic. It's nice to have a calm life, but does upheaval sometimes make life richer?
Strengths: This had an excellent mix of friend drama, family problems, and a tween with a particular interest. I know I talk a lot about the fact that there are more literary parents who die than I have seen in real life, but I have actually had several students find out about siblings they didn't know they had, all of whom were fairly close in age, and it does cause emotional upheaval! Ailing grandparents are also something that comes up quite a bit, and dementia is all too common. Somehow, the cover captures the feel of the book perfectly. 
Weaknesses: Are middle school students interested in interior design? I can't say that it has come up in 20 years of teaching, even when Trading Spaces was popular. That said, I did so love the way that the decorating contest went down. I don't want to spoil it, but it was brilliant. 
What I really think: This was somewhat similar to Hopkins' Closer to Nowhere, but there is a need for depictions of opioid abuse. Ohio has a high rate of cases, and it does impact students. The information about Narcan was highly relevant, as was the depiction of a parent struggling to stay in rehab. In general, this was an upbeat book that tackled problems with some hope. I do wish that books were more positive about assisted living facilities. This might help actual students view it more positively. My mother was in one for six years, and she got much better care than she would have at home, given the severity of her Parkinson's and related dementia.

1 comment:

  1. I like the sound of this. It never would have occurred to me to go to a thrift shop as a pre-teen or teen, still less buy anything there (I got teased for taking sewing classes and wearing things I made) but I find it fascinating now. And being forced to give up a room or share a room is universal!