Rules of the Road by Joan Bauer
Published: Speak (Penguin ) - 1998
Age Group: Young Adult
Date Read: June 30, 2012
4 of 5 Stars: Full of humor, fun, and strength
Reason for Reading: I had read one of Bauer's other books, and my mother had actually picked this up from the library, so I read it while visiting my parents.
On GoodReads: Jenna Boller is too tall for a sophomore and she's not much good in school. Her sister Faith got all the looks in the family, but boy, can Jenna sell shoes! She's supremely happy at her after-school job at Gladstone's, where the big white sign over the door says "We're Not Just Selling Shoes, We're Selling Quality." When elderly Mrs. Madeline Gladstone, the crusty president of the company, chooses Jenna as her driver on a business trip to visit other Gladstone's stores, Jenna goes reluctantly--with trepidation at driving the huge Cadillac, and at the prospect of leaving her alcoholic father behind. But on the road, Jenna learns "great road truths" such as "Never eat at a place called Mom's, because it's a safe bet Mom's been dead for years." She also proves to be indispensable (possessing an eagle eye for shoddy quality and sloppy service), and soon learns to admire and love the irascible Mrs. Gladstone as well as her old friend, "World's Best Shoe Salesman" Harry Bender. When Harry dies suddenly, Jenna realizes that she wishes he had been her father. Trouble looms in the form of a company takeover by Mrs. Gladstone's sleazy son, Elden, "Shoe Rodent," but Jenna summons courage from Harry's memory and saves the day for quality shoes.
My Thoughts: This book was so funny at times, and so touching and heartfelt at others. It was very tame compared to many more recently written YA books, but it worked well. I liked seeing Jenna find her strength and confidence over the Summer she worked for Mrs. Gladstone. Bauer seems to always write good, strong female characters that have some type of work-force talent, which I find really enjoyable. Jenna's struggle with her father's alcoholism is very realistic, though a bit cheesy at times, and her final confrontation with him shows how much she has grown and changed over the course of the book. The side characters were also wonderfully written and unique. Bonus: Road trip.
Recommended To: If you liked Joan Bauer's Hope Was Here, or if you like road trip novels, like Morgan Matson's Amy & Roger's Epic Detour or Maureen Johnson's 13 Little Blue Envelopes.
Quote From The Book: "The car was pointed away from the garage door, which meant that to get the car out, I would have to back it up. I was a C-minus backer-upper.
"A Cadillac, Floyd always said, is entirely trustworthy. It has been tested in any and all conditions and will perform to the utmost to protect its driver."
Was this a car or a Seeing Eye dog?" (p. 27)
Books Read This Year: 53 of 100
Currently Reading: The Night She Disappeared by April Henry