Author: Kate McGovern
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (BYR)
Age Group: Young Adult
Release date: November 24th, 2015
Pages: 352 (ARC)
Rating: 4 out of 5
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Seventeen-year-old Rose Levenson has a decision to make: Does she want to know how she’s going to die? Because when Rose turns eighteen, she can take the test that will tell her if she carries the genetic mutation for Huntington’s disease, the degenerative condition that is slowly killing her mother. With a fifty-fifty shot at inheriting her family’s genetic curse, Rose is skeptical about pursuing anything that presumes she’ll live to be a healthy adult—including going to ballet school and the possibility of falling in love. But when she meets a boy from a similarly flawed genetic pool, and gets an audition for a dance scholarship in California, Rose begins to question her carefully-laid rules.
Rose has spent the last 6 years of her life watching her mother's motor skills deteriorate before her. The thing about Huntington's disease is that there's nothing that anyone can do to about it, and the horrifying reality is that Rose has a 50/50 shot of getting the disease herself. The worse things get, the more she begins to look into testing, which she can do as soon as she turns 18, although that's not necessarily recommended. As readers get to know Rose and her family, we get a close look at the emotional struggles of caring for a sick loved one.
It becomes very clear that Rose's fear of the future is controlling every decision she makes now. She doesn't want to get too close to anyone and she wants to make sure that she chooses a career that will make enough money to cover the cost of medical bills in case she does inherit the disease. When Rose meets Caleb at a walk for genetic diseases, he turns her entire world upside down. Suddenly she's beginning to let go of the idea that being alone is best. He understands some of the things she's going through, since his mother and sisters are suffering from sickle cell anemia, another incurable disease. The relationship between Caleb and Rose is a special one. They both come from different backgrounds, and although he's been through a lot, he's unafraid to speak the truth and let himself feel.
Though Rose is a very likable character, she does seem a little selfish at times, refusing to believe anyone else truly understands her suffering. Honestly, if I knew that I had a 50% chance of inheriting the disease that was tearing my family apart, I think I would be just as pessimistic as she is. Fortunately, there are plenty of people in her life that care about her and try to show her that she still has so much to live for, no matter what the results say. Lena, her best friend, is also an important character, because she makes it known that she will always be there for Rose through thick and thin. Not everyone finds a friend like that, especially at a young age, and I wish we'd gotten to see more of those two together.
Rules for 50/50 Chances is a wonderful contemporary that focuses on the deeper meanings of life and death. It's a journey of growth, love, and acceptance that many people will be able to enjoy. Although it's a heavy topic, the author managed to make the story lighthearted and full of hope, showing readers that no matter what the future holds, you should always live your life to the fullest.