This review is also available on my blog, Read Till Dawn.
I don’t usually review books this short, but I was offered a copy of Cody and the Rules of Life and it looked intriguing enough that I couldn’t say no.
And really, it was a good book. It has much more depth to it than I went in expecting, and a variety of storylines that weave together to make the story. My favorite scenes were probably actually with Cody’s teacher, Mr. Daniels. Cody writes in her class journal about the search for her brother’s missing bike, which is a model Cobra, and Mr. Daniels thinks her brother lost an actual snake! It’s funnier than you’d think watching him ask Cody concerned questions about her family’s lifestyle, and her confusing him even more (while thinking they’re on the same page!).
I didn’t care much about the storyline with the swapped toys, largely because Cody should never have traded Gremlin away. I have a hard time relating with a girl who would do that–there’s no way I would ever have given my treasured baby blanket away to anyone when I was her age, no matter how nice they were to me. In fact, now that I think about it, I still wouldn’t give it away for anything.
But what really appealed to me about the book was the way Cody grapples with issues bigger than herself. She’s grown up in a home with strict “rules of life,” not just against hitting and saying mean things and stealing and all the other things that aren’t nice but also against just generally being mean or unkind to anyone, and she largely views the world as black and white through the lenses of those rules. As the book goes by, she has to face that fact that someone did a very mean thing–and that her brother is terribly angry at whoever that person is. For her, this combines with other moral issues (some of them connected to the loss of Gremlin) to result in her learning several valuable lessons over the course of the book.
All in all, I enjoyed reading Cody and the Rules of Life. It was a pleasant read, far more complex and mature than I expected it to be, and just the sort of book I would be happy to hand over to elementary and middle schoolers looking for an interesting read.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.