Book Review: Rules for 50/50 Chances – Kate McGovern

Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern
Pages: 342
Genre: Romance, Physical Illness
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), November 2015
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis: A heartrending but ultimately uplifting debut novel about learning to accept life’s uncertainties; a perfect fit for the current trend in contemporary realistic novels that confront issues about life, death, and love.

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 tells 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 her dream career in ballet 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 across the country, Rose begins to question her carefully laid rules.


The story is focused on Rose and her senior year as a high school student. She has to deal with picking a college while having a mother with Huntington’s disease. Huntington’s disease is when brain cells get damaged over time. It’s a slow and sad process. It takes over her mom and makes her bipolar, lose motor abilities, and slur her words. Rose doesn’t want to leave her mom, but wants to accept her ballet scholarship across the country.

Rose is a ballet dancer and dances around five hours a day. The girls at her ballet school are competing to get into dance schools and get scholarships. They don’t have time for boyfriends.

Rose meets Caleb at a Walk for Rare Genes. Huntington’s is a rare gene and Rose has a fifty percent chance of inheriting it by her mom.Caleb calls her HD girl and he is sickle cell boy. They call each other by their family disease.  I thought the nicknames were silly. HD girl?

I do not ship Rose and Caleb. I didn’t like their relationship. They did mention that Caleb was black. I’m not against black people or anything, but the way he’s being described, he’s not a favorite character of mine. He’s always mentioned as black.

I think you should read this book if you’d like to know a bit of how it feels to be a high school student deciding on where to go to college and having a mother who’s losing her mind slowly with Huntington’s disease. I didn’t ship Rose and Caleb, the main characters, so I gave this book 4/5 stars.


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