ARC Review: Ten Rules for Faking It by Sophie Sullivan

Thank you so much to St. Martin’s Griffin and Netgalley for letting me read an ARC of Ten Rules for Faking It early! I was super intrigued by the summary for this book because it’s about a main character who just turned 30 (that birthday is coming up sooner than I’d like), is single (will you look at that, so am I), and has not had any luck in dating, like ever (it’s like this book was written about me). I thought it would be fun to read about someone who’s in a similar situation to me, but with one key difference, she’s doing a bachelorette style competition for work, whereas I’m deciding on whether to run a paid social ad or not to target our super niche market and creating instagram graphics for the boutique fitness studio I’m doing marketing for (also, if you’re ever in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC and you’re looking for an amazing workout, for sure check out The Sweat Lab! We have the best cycling, barre, pilates, and strength training classes you could ask for and we’re doing classes on the deck right now, so not only is it beautiful, everything is super sanitized and you’re always a safe distance away from other people- plus there’s a great Korean fusion place next door, so you can grab amazing food after you workout! A win win for sure.) Sorry for the minor digression, but I’m obsessed with my workout studio, so I like talking about them haha anyway, I was super excited to read about Everly and her journey and everything in Ten Rules for Faking it and while I thought it was a promising concept and a fun/cute story overall, it wasn’t my favorite, but it’s definitely still worth the read. Ten Rules for Faking It comes out today, so be sure to check it out!

Ten Rules for Faking It 4/5 Stars

Summary from Goodreads:

What happens when your love life becomes the talk of the town?

As birthdays go, this year’s for radio producer Everly Dean hit rock-bottom.

Worse than the “tonsillectomy birthday.” Worse than the birthday her parents decided to split (the first time). But catching your boyfriend cheating on you with his assistant?

Even clichés sting.

But this is Everly’s year! She won’t let her anxiety hold her back. She’ll pitch her podcast idea to her boss.

There’s just one problem.

Her boss, Chris, is very cute. (Of course). Also, he’s extremely distant (which means he hates her, right? Or is that the anxiety talking)?

And, Stacey the DJ didn’t mute the mic during Everly’s rant about Simon the Snake (syn: Cheating Ex).

That’s three problems.

Suddenly, people are lining up to date her, Bachelorette-style, fans are voting (Reminder: never leave house again), and her interest in Chris might be a two-way street. It’s a lot for a woman who could gold medal in people-avoidance. She’s going to have to fake it ‘till she makes it to get through all of this.

Perhaps she’ll make a list: The Ten Rules for Faking It.

Because sometimes making the rules can find you happiness when you least expect it.

So based off of the summary, you expect the plot to go in a certain order: Everly to have her birthday where she wants to talk to Chris about her podcast (so you assume you’re going to meet Chris at the beginning or at least hear about him somewhere at the front, or at least more about this podcast), Stacey and Everly to have some sort of interaction where Everly starts ranting about her cheating ex, people to start this bachelorette style dating pool/game/format, Everly to make her list. Well, all of those things kind of happen, but I don’t remember really knowing much about this podcast until Everly (and Stacey) are working on the list. Stacey leaves the mic on during Everly’s rant before we even know who Chris is (plus, did Simon and Everly ever really break up or was it just assumed because he was cheating on her?). We know that Everly thinks Chris is cute and intimidating the first time they speak and the first time we see Chris’ point of view, we know he likes Everly (which ok, having worked in corporate for most of my life gives me the creeps- like ew. Don’t think your boss is cute and as a boss, don’t think your employee is cute and like her like that. HR nightmare. Power imbalance. Gross.) Everly didn’t even know about the bachelorette style dating thing until after she made her list for faking it- her list was made for her 30th birthday. All of these things aren’t that big of a deal, but I hate it when I get a timeline in my mind based on a summary and then the book doesn’t follow it!

I really enjoyed the first half of this book (I’m sure the paragraph above doesn’t really make it seem that way, but I promise I did). Stacey and Everly have a really cute friendship. It made me really sad that so many people in Everly’s life (in the past) had brushed off her anxiety and told her to just calm down or relax, as if them telling her to do that would magically fix everything. I don’t have bad anxiety, but often, before something big, my mind gets stuck in what if loops or it goes through all the possible scenarios that could happen and it’s always so frustrating because I know I’m stressing myself out for no reason, but I can’t help it, so to read about someone whose anxiety is much worse and how much it impacts her life and how many of the people in her life don’t take it seriously is so frustrating. Here are some of my favorite lines from the e-ARC (caveat- these may not be in the final version or they may be slightly different in the final version)

“How? You pick immature men who you have very little in common with, hoping their extroverted qualities cancel out your introverted ones.” This comes from the first page of the book and man, it really spoke to me, because from college through my mid twenties, this is exactly how I dated- I looked for the life of the party to make up for the fact that I was often on the fringes of everything- I came to the same conclusion that Everly did though, and once I realized that, I was able to make better choices.

“Maybe it was time to make some changes. For herself.” (Pg 42) So often, we change ourselves for others or we make changes in our lives to better convenience other people, so it’s nice to see Everly say that she’s going to be making these changes for herself- that’s what everyone wants right? To make changes for themselves and better themselves/to be the best version/most fun version of themselves that they can?

“‘No. You’re not. But our parents’ behavior can impact us as adults more than we expect.’” (Pg 62) In this conversation, Everly and Chris are talking Everly’s parents’ on-again, off-again relationship and I love this quote- I think sometimes we forget how important our parents are (if you’re close to your family) and even when you’re an adult, what they say, how they behave, and how they interact with others will still shape how you see things, whether you realize it or not.

“‘Because it’s hard to let go of things and say goodbye to them even when we should? Because each of them represents a stage in your life? A little piece of who you were, even if you don’t want to be that person anymore?’” (Pgs 108-109) Stacey and Everly are talking about clothes in this scene, but I loved this line because it relates to so much more than clothing- I have books from different stages of my life that I won’t throw away, shoes, photos, friends- all the things that you really should get rid of once they stop bringing you joy/being a part of who you are today, but sometimes you just can’t say bye to that stage in your life.

All of these were from the first half of the book, and it’s not that the second half of the book was bad, but it just wasn’t my favorite. There was a secondary conflict that seemed thrown in there to throw a smaller wrench in Everly and Chris’ relationship, but then they got over that and then there was the real main conflict that should have been the only actual conflict in the book because it was the important one that had been set up throughout the whole book and that was solved in the proper rom com way and everything and had characters growing etc- I think that secondary conflict could have been nixed all together and the author could have had the resolution/growth that both characters needed to gain happen because of the main conflict. I also had a much harder time with Everly’s anxiety in the second half of the book, not because I thought that the portrayal of the actual anxiety was bad, but because I felt like those same characters who knew her and were her rock in the first half (well, I’m mainly thinking of Stacey here) suddenly seemed to be different people in the second half of the book and the author made it out that the only person who could be there for Everly/her only beacon of light was Chris and I hated that. I get trying to make him seem like this great, amazing guy, but don’t do it at the detriment of the person you’ve built up to be Everly’s only lifeline. The biggest, glaring example of this is when Everly and Stacey go to a kickboxing class and run into Simon there and after the confrontation, Everly runs and Stacey follows her, trying to get her to come back to the class instead of letting Simon “win” by running her off. Everly snaps at Stacey and leaves and does some stuff and then in the morning (because Stacey didn’t respond to her texts), goes to her house to apologize, where Stacey tells her that there was never an issue and no apology was ever needed- but like when you’ve known your friend with severe anxiety for a few years and you get into a fight like that, you know you would never not answer their texts that night/as soon as possible. That’s not what you do, and I feel like the author just changed Stacey on us and I hate that!

Overall, even though the second half is not my favorite and the power dynamic between Chris and Everly freaks me out (since he’s her boss), I enjoyed this book and I thought it was a cute rom com.

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