Review: Rules of 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Publication date: Oct 20, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Category: Young Adult - Historical/Sci-fi
Source: Received ARC at BEA
Summary: It's 1956 & the Axis powers of the Third Reich & Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain & Russia, Hitler & Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor's ball. Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race & kill Hitler. A survivor of human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift & must complete her mission by impersonating last year's only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin's brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael's every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission? (

The good
Rules for 50/50 Chances walked a very line between serious life-changing issues and lighter moments of every day teenage life extremely well. In Kate McGovern’s capable hands, we’re given a realistic look into seventeen-year-old Rose Leveson’s life as she deals with the daily heartbreak of watching her mother succumb to Huntington’s disease, a degenerative condition. Not to mention, she wonders if this could be her fate too. Actually, wonders is probably putting it mildly because Rose is an extreme worrier who’s aware of her 50/50 chance of developing the same condition. The pressing question on her mind is — does she want to take the test that will tell her if she carries the same genetic mutation as her mom?

Even though I can see how some readers may grow weary of Rose’s constant fear and indecision, I understood it. Until you’ve stood in her shoes — watched a parent get sick and know you could possibly inherit it — it’s impossible to say what you would do in that situation. And Rose doesn’t just have a high chance. It’s a 50/50 one. Those are really high stakes. And seeing the changes in her mother, who she always had a close relationship with, is a constant reminder that this could be her future. We’d all like to think we wouldn’t let that possibility dictate our present but really, we have no idea. I say all this because it does get hard to hear her self-deprecating comments about the future or potential lack thereof. Especially in a girl with so much potential (she’s a super talented ballet dancer!). But as I said earlier, the author aptly balanced it out with a great characters. Namely her father (loved him!), mother (whether she's lucid or having an episode, she just broke my heart!), her best friend Lena and a boy she recently meets named Caleb.

All the relationships in Rose’s life are so well-depicted. There’s her best friend Lena, who always tells Rose exactly like it is, even when it might hurt. She pushes her to find happiness and fun in the present, while constantly supporting and trying to understand her decisions. Likewise, Caleb does the same thing, albeit in a more romantic way! Even though Rose and Caleb connect and flirt (cutely!) right away, their relationship develops slowly and the pace was just right for this book. The ebb and flow of their romance matched Rose’s internal struggles and I rooted for them to find happiness together. But most importantly of all, I rooted for Rose to find peace with her future and just live.

(Minor) reservations
The book features a diverse cast of characters which I adored. But sometimes Rose and Caleb would get into debates about race that felt out of left field. I don’t deny they’re important conversations to have but they didn’t quite fit into the context of the story. At least not where the author interjected them.

Do I recommend?
I do! The book made me laugh, feel, and think about life. It’s a solid contemporary novel that I definitely recommend picking up.

Collaborative feature with Alexa! 

Are you a plane person or a train person?
This question is a special part of Rose and her mother's relationship (don't worry, it's not a spoiler!) so it seemed fitting to answer that here. I'm somewhere in between. I once took a train from California to New Jersey with my family when I was 10 years old and it was pretty unpleasant. I was not a fan of the bathroom situation plus we didn't have our own little room to sleep in and because I only had one book with me, I read that same Baby-sitters Club Special about 10 times. On the other hand, I've taken the train from New Jersey to DC, absolutely loved that and would like to repeat the experience. So < 5 hour train rides are wonderful. But at this point in my life, planes are probably my preferred mode of travel, which still shocks me since I was afraid of flying for so long. But now I enjoy it and love looking out the window at the world. 

Also, I know this isn't an option but I had to say that I will always love a good old-fashioned roadtrip!

1 comment

  1. I love road trips too, as you already know! But yeah, I'm a little bit of both. I love train rides (especially as an adult, when I can just comfortably sit with my book and look out my window at the changing scenery and appreciate it), and I love plane rides (since I can't get to other countries any other way). Ahem. Anyway, about the book, I really enjoyed Rules for 50/50 Chances! It just felt so authentic in how it portrayed everything, and I loved that.


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