The Rules of Survival
The Rules of Survival
The Rules of Survival
Nancy Werlin
This National Book Award Finalist is a thought-provoking exploration of emotional abuse, self-reliance and the nature of evil. A heart-wrenching portrait of family crisis, this is perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak and Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why. For Matt and his sisters, life with their cruel, physically abusive mother is a day-to-day struggle for survival. But then Matt witnesses a man named Murdoch coming to a child’s rescue in a convenience store; and for the first time, he feels a glimmer of hope. Then, amazingly, Murdoch begins dating Matt’s mother. Life is suddenly almost good. But the relief lasts only a short time. When Murdoch inevitable breaks up with their mother, Matt knows that he’ll need to take some action. Can he call upon Murdoch to be his hero? Or will Matt have to take measures into his own hands? A gripping, powerful novel that will stay with you long after you’ve read it. Nancy Werlin, the New York Times Bestselling author of Impossible, shows why she is a master of her genre.  “[A] dark but hopeful tale, with pacing and suspense guaranteed to leave readers breathlessly turning the pages.”—Booklist (starred review) “Beautifully framed as a letter from Matthew to his younger sister, the suspense is paced to keep Matthew’s survival and personal revelations chock-full of dramatic tension. Bring tissues.”—Kirkus (starred review) “Grace and insight.”—School Library Journal (starred review) National Book Award FinalistLA Times Book Prize FinalistALA Best Books of the YearALA Quick Pick 

Book Details


  • Adventure
  • Fiction

Age Level: 

  • 12 and up
Profile Picture

The Rules of Survival is about a boy, Matt, and his two sisters, Callie and Emmy, who live with their slightly unstable mother, Nikki, in South Boston. One fateful night when Matt and Callie risk walking down to the local grocer store (while their mother is out for the night, of course) they witness a man helping a young boy whose father is screaming at him. That incident sparks a curiosity in Matt and he sets out to find this mysterious, strong stranger. Fate plays out and Matt's neurotic mother and the man, Murdoch, begin having a relationship.

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