Philosophers tell us that we have the right to work for our own survival.
What are the rules about helping others survive? Are we required to do so? Are others required to help us if we are minors and unable to help ourselves?
What if you never knew, at any time, what your mother would do next? Beat you? Drive into oncoming traffic to get you to say how much you loved her? Lock you in a house and leave for several days?
What if you had a mother so crazy that she would accuse an innocent person of abusing her kids?
The Rules of Survival is dedicated to kids who are going through just such trauma. It’s told as a letter from older brother Matthew to his little sister Emmy. Callie and Matthew—sister and brother—are several years older than their younger sister Emmy (who has a different father), but they have a common goal—to protect Emmy from their mentally ill, volatile mother.
When Matthew and Callie are at a grocery store one day, they witness a man about to beat his son. Someone named Murdoch steps in and prevents in. After this, Matt dreams of finding Murdoch and becoming friends with him. But his efforts lead to Murdoch dating his mother.
Aunt Bobbie knows that her sister is a bad mom, but doesn’t know what to do. Matt and Callie’s dad, Ben, thinks things can’t be that bad. And now the kids are pinning their hopes on Murdoch. Can he make the difference in their lives? And if he doesn’t, what will Matt’s desperation lead him to do to keep Emmy safe?
Though this is a quick page-turner, the looming question of when we should get involved to help others will make you evaluate your own life and resonate for a long time.