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Review: The Six Rules of Maybe by Deb Caletti

“Scarlet spends most of her time worrying about other people. Some are her friends, others are practically strangers, and then there are the ones no one even notices. Trying to fix their lives comes naturally to her. And pushing her own needs to the side is part of the deal. 

So when her older sister comes home unexpectedly married and pregnant, Scarlet has a new person to worry about. But all of her good intentions are shattered when the unthinkable happens: She falls for her sister’s husband. For the first time in a long time, Scarlet’s not fixing a problem, she’s at the center of one. And ignoring her feelings doesn’t seem to be an option . . .” 

It has always been understood that caring for someone was indeed kind and not selfish. Even if the only reasons why you care is because you want that person to care back or appreciate what you did. You always rationalize, “Well, I am doing something nice,” or “At least I had good intentions,” but sometimes it’s cruel to care because you make people think you care, when in truth, you never did. The Six Rules of Maybe is a book about learning the difference between true kindness and true selfishness. That sometimes it’s okay to want for ourselves, because we’re human and that if you’re only being kind to make yourself feel better, then you’re not being kind at all. This book is also about hoping and quitting and learning that quitting isn’t giving up on hope but starting over and taking hope in a new direction. Yet most truly, this book is about learning the differences between bad and good and how some things are really that bad but some things, much as we want to believe, aren’t really that good either. 

Speaking of good and bad things, we have a tale of two sisters, Scarlet the good who cares about others and Juliet the bad who only seems to care about herself. Yet when Juliet suddenly comes home pregnant with a husband, Hayden, Scarlet finds herself thinking about what she wants and not seeming to care about her sister, Juliet. 

However, Scarlet cannot deny who is, a person who cares and forces herself to overly care her neighbor, Clive Weaver, who is suffering from a little depression; and her other neighbor, Fiona Saint George, also known as “Goth Girl,” who seems completely unhappy with her life. She even tries to help out her new brother-in-law with his relationship with Juliet, who doesn’t seem to love him. Yet somewhere deep down Scarlet knows she is being ever helpful in order to cover up the guilt she feels for liking Juliet’s husband, Hayden. 

Still she presses on, denying these notions and starts the “Clive Weaver Project,” where she makes paper cranes out of her mail to put in his mailbox, so he can feel like he’s still getting mail and that someone cares about him. With “Goth Girl,” she just complements her on her good yet disturbing chalk drawings on the Saint George’s driveway; and with Hayden, she waits for him to go outside at night and quietly joins him, offering him a little friendly company. 

Yet even with these “good intentions,” things back fire. The “Clive Weaver Project” gets thrown on a back burner, she ends up setting up Fiona (“Goth Girl”) with a boy who’s explosive in more ways than one and a mistake with Hayden causes her to lose a good friend and possibly a sister. And Scarlet is face to face with the consequences of her “kindness,” wondering why good (kindness, though slightly false) had not triumphed over evil (selfishness and Juliet) and where had it all gone wrong? Thus learning that what she might have hoped for was misguided and that taking a step back from intervening in other’s lives could be the best for her and everyone involved. 

True kindness is not doing something nice for someone else but a desire to see that someone else is happy. That being a little selfish is an act of kindness upon one self, if done right and that hope is a way to get to the happy ending and giving up can simply be a way to redirect one’s hope. Most importantly, The Six Rules of Maybe is simply about using the good and bad within us to the best of our abilities and not just sticking to an idealistic view of good and bad that may not be at all what we had thought. 

Reviewed by Camia Rhodes

Book Information
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 3/16/2010
Pages: 321

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