Publication Date: July 12, 2011
Publisher: Gallery Books
Keywords: golf, scandals, virginity, summer vacation
Format Read: paperback from publisher (Thank you!)
Summary: It's only a week into summer break and already seventeen-year-old Gates has a) hustled millionaires on the golf course b) tried to stop his mother from having another nervous breakdown, c) promised to lose his virginity with his girlfriend, Mel, which would be great if he hadn't already lost it to his forty-year-old godmother, d) almost killed a man.
Yeah, Gates has a lot of secrets, but he's determined to keep his heart true. When he's not swinging golf clubs like a pro, he reads pulp fiction to old folks at the retirement home. And despite his occasional slip-ups — drinking before noon and sneaking glimpses through his sexy godmother's open negligees — Gates only has eyes for Mel. But she knows he's hiding something, and she's beginning to lose her patience.
Just as Gates is about to spill his shameful secrets, he gets tangled up in a golf club scandal that jeopardizes his dreams of a normal life. He's never been a fighter, but this time he finally pushes back at the world — which could have been a breakthrough but turns into an epic fail. Probably because Gates fights back dirty. Now his life is on the verge of ruin, and he's got no one to turn to for help.
Or so he thinks. Because what Gates is about to discover might hit him with the most amazing shock of his life.
This was so vastly different from most young adult books that I read — you can just tell from the synopsis. I mean, the book starts with Gates's godmother walking around his house naked just so she can have sex with him. He's a sympathetic kid, and it's clear that he means well, but he can't help himself and falls prey to her multiple times through the novel. And if that wasn't bad enough, his mother should clearly not have custody of him (but she's the only one), has mental breakdowns and will disappear for days at a time, leaving Gates alone with his godmother and to fend for himself. He doesn't want to do any of this, and it's easy to sympathize with Gates (he's the narrator, so we can see that he's really trying to change and stop the situation) and want to help him out. But even when Gates was in situations he didn't like, his voice and narration was always funny, and you could tell most of it was said with a sarcastic air.
The author tackled rough subjects head-on — psychological issues, rape, divorce, alcoholism, and more. They're all here. And it was so interesting to see them from a seventeen-year-old male's point of view. It made it much more realistic. The approach taken as well was humorous, which added to the realism. It may not make much sense, but that's how Gates seemed to handle everything, with denial and a few jokes, so when problems emerged, he did the same. I was extremely impressed with how realistic this book was in terms of approaches to problems (especially when the parents have problems) and how their children, in particular, dealt with them.
And as a last little bit on the book — GOLF! This was the first YA book I've read (ever, that I can remember) that had golf as a side plot. Nice work! I love when authors mix it up, even with a sport I'm not interested in, but still manage to hook me to the book. Paradise Rules was so different and such a nice change of pace from the usual book you can pick up.