Summary: Rule of Threes
Rule of Threes is Marcy Campbell’s debut middle grade novel. Maggie and her two BFFs share a love for design and decorating. They’ve entered a school contest to redecorate a section of the school. Maggie’s life at home is also fairly stable — until one visit changes everything. All of a sudden, there’s a new stepbrother named Tony who is moving in with Maggie and her parents. On top of that, one of her best friends is withdrawing because Maggie refuses to call her by her preferred name, Rakell (not Rachel as she’s previously gone by).
Maggie feels left in the dark as her parents try to deal with other family issues such as Tony’s mother being addicted to opioids and Maggie’s grandmother developing dementia. As things build up, can Maggie keep it all together?
I really enjoyed this story. Maggie’s family is experiencing a rough season in life, full of many changes. As a result of her parents trying to protect her from the stressful details, Maggie is feeling left out and kept in the dark, which makes the changes harder to handle. She also has a new sibling after being an only child her entire life. Worse still, the sibling means she’s had to find out that her dad cheated on her mother in the past. Still, I loved seeing Tony and Maggie bond throughout this story. It made my heart warm.
Besides the drama in the family, Maggie has to learn what it means to be a good friend. She can be a bit bossy with her friends, Rakell and Olive and Rakell is growing up faster than the other two girls, showing an interest in boys and fashion and wanting to be her own person. Olive also has her own family challenges and still tries to be super positive.
Maggie’s grandmother shares her love for design, so she struggles with accepting that she’s losing that relative who has always been there. Dementia is a topic that I wish more middle grade books would cover and this one does so realistically while highlighting how aging grandparents can impact the family both emotionally and financially. Finally, the depiction of Tony’s mom and her struggle with drug misuse is handled sensitively, while remaining true to life.
Overall: Rule of Threes
Rule of Threes is a realistic, absorbing middle grade book about the complexities of family life and how they impact children’s lives. This book highlights that kids can handle more than parents give them credit for. With a design-loving protagonist, a likable step-sibling, and a grandparent with health challenges, this one is perfect for fans of arts and crafts books, sibling stories, and grandparent books.
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I received an eARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.