Unspoken Rules

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: Not set

Member Reviews

This was an easy read. I enjoyed most of the characters, but other than that it just fell flat and underdeveloped in terms of good bookness. The premise is interesting, but it does end up being significantly more interesting than the story.
Was this review helpful?
Unspoken Rules is a very interesting look at Natalie's life as she has a strict Christian Orthodox home and at school she is a Syrian girl that doesn't party.  The characters are well written and well paced.  The characters seem real to life, Natalie is a good girl but not some angel.  She has flaws, and makes mistakes as she tries to negotiate between the rules of her home and trying to fit in at school.  It's a quick YA contemporary that I recommend to anyone that likes YA contemporary
Was this review helpful?
I received an eARC of this book on NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.
I have mixed feelings for this book. The overall concept is fabulous, and I even love most of the characters, but somehow it still fell short for me. Perhaps something in the plot building, or perhaps the style of writing? Either way, this was an okay read. If you need to kill a few hours and aren’t looking for a book you’d get invested it, this is a solid easy read.
Was this review helpful?
Unfortunately this book wasn't for me and I did not finish it. Thank you for the opportunity :)
Was this review helpful?
Thank you for the chance to review this book, however, unfortunately, I was unable to read and review this title before it was archived.
Was this review helpful?
Natalie is a Syrian Orthodox Christian, the child of immigrants to Australia, currently in her final year of high school. Her older sister wants nothing more than to marry a Baba-approved man from the Syrian expat community, but Natalie is falling for a guy from school. An Australian. And she wants to become a journalist and travel the world, not get married and start her own family.

She has many of the same struggles as normal seventeen-year-old girls, but she also has the struggle of straddling two worlds—the conservative patriarchal culture of her Syrian family and community which is full of unspoken rules, and the more liberal Australian culture of her school. And things are difficult at home. Her older sister is moody, but that’s nothing new. Her mother is acting out of character. Baba carries on making bad jokes.

Natalie might hide her Syrian culture from most of her schoolmates, but she can’t hide it from the reader.
Instead, we see that the girls at her church are just as focused on clothes and boys as the girls at school. What was good to see was that none of the characters experienced any racism—although that could be more because racism wasn’t the focus of the book than because it doesn’t exist in modern Australia.

One thing that bugged me was that while the family were strict Syrian Orthodox Christians, the focus seemed to be on the cultural aspect rather than the spiritual. Natalie’s sister was the only character who seemed to pray—I never really understood whether Natalie believed in what the church taught or not.

She followed the rules, but that’s a matter of outward behaviour, not inner faith. I guess I’d have liked to have understood that a little better.
Unspoken Rules was a fascinating insight into other cultures—the Syrian Orthodox culture, the tightknit Syrian community (which can’t really be separated from the Orthodox), and modern Australian teen culture. And it’s a warts-and-all insight, told from Natalie’s point of view. The writing has a slightly foreign flavour, especially when Mama and Baba are talking. But that makes sense, because their first language is Arabic.

A fascinating and engrossing Young Adult novel that shows growing up is hard no matter what your culture.
Thanks to Rhiza Press and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
Was this review helpful?
I just wasn't very interested. I left and came back to it many times but just couldn't bring myself to finish it. I hope others like it, because the premise was really nice, but it just wasn't it for me.
Was this review helpful?
"She wasn't like the other kids at school. She didn't have the same freedoms. She had to live the life decided for her. Tread the same terrain trodden on by her mother, her grandmother, no doubt her sister and countless other girls and women from her community. Her road was set - long straight, even, the scenery black and white." 

Unspoken Rules is about a Syrian girl, Natalie, living in Australia desperately trying to balance life at home within the Syrian Christian Orthodox community and her secular life at school. 

The Story-What I liked about this story was that it instilled quite a bit of culture around Natalie's choices. It's a lot more than just strict parents with lots of rules - it has to do with the background of why there are rules. So when she went around trying to hide her choices from her family it was understandable. Here she was trying to live a life as a modern teenager in Australia, when her life was shrouded by religion, tradition, and expectation. Her life at home at school was so drastically different that it was just so much easier to separate the two rather than merge them as one life - her life. 

The Characters-Natalie could be the biggest hypocrite. Like here she was complaining about how traditional her family was, and then flip out and unfriend her best friend because of a modern choice she made, that frankly didn't actually affect Natalie in any shape or form. 
I did however adore how unsuperficial she was when it came to her judging people, especially when it came to including one of the unpopular girls at her church. 

The Connection-I was raised in a fairly strict household, so I definitely get how she would feel when it comes to not being allowed to do a lot of things. I honestly got a little annoyed at how much she was complaining about her different lives. Like, dang girl, you're the one who made it that way. At least she admitted she needed to grow up. I also found it a little weird how open she was to changes in her life once a boy was involved. It was a big relief to see that at some point in their relationship she realized the choices she was making was drastically different than how she was raised. Now while I do not agree with some of the way the orthodox religion is, I do not agree with someone just flip flopping without a thought - and I was incredibly happy that she didn't just get carried away with the moment.

All in all, I thought the book was okay, but nothing to really grab my friend and rave about to.
Was this review helpful?
What really draw me to requesting this book was the mention of Orthodox Christianity. As someone who was raised as an Orthodox Christian, I was really looking forward to see how it was portrayed, which is why I had set some sort of expectations for this book plot-wise, and said expectations weren’t met.It’s a nice read, if you’re looking for a quick YA, this book is for you. The writing is decent, the characters are developed too. The coming of age portion is covered in an interesting manner, whether you love it or hate, it is up to you.But I didn’t connect to this read as much as I expected to.
Was this review helpful?
Natalie lives in two different worlds, both governed by the unspoken rules of her Christian Orthodox background. While her sister has embraced the future laid out by their culture, Natalie wants to fit in with her friends from school. Her first love drives a wedge even further between her and her family. A coming of age story, with unique, complex multi-layered relationships, Unspoken Rules is a realistic look at family, culture and identity.  

Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Was this review helpful?
Natalie is a Christian Orthodox Syrian Australian teenager and throughout Unspoken Rules, we follow her as she tries to break free of the ideals for females in the community that she was raised in. We see her meet a nice Aussie boy, Chris, and the struggles that she has about the things she feels when she is around him versus what she thinks she should be doing as a good daughter and sister. That is the main crux of the novel but is far from all that happens; there is abuse, a suicide attempt, realistic depiction of characters with disabilities (I wont say who one of these characters are but you are able to guess pretty early on in the book) and it is all topped off with general cattiness from both the community and friend groups in school.
As a British girl, I will never know for sure how authentic the telling of the Syrian community within the book is, but I can say that it was believable to me going from what I have seen in the media and from friends in a similar environment. It almost felt a little bit like My Big Fat Greek Wedding but with a high school kid and a Syrian Australian community rather than Greek American. Natalie’s sister, Misha, spends a lot of the book whining about how she is becoming an old maid (in her early twenties!) and switches between moping over a lost suitor and being stubbornly adamant that she doesn’t like her new one. Spoiler alert: he is a cinnamon roll.
I didn’t find Natalie a particularly likeable main character, especially with the way she treats her friends and Chris, but in a way I understand where she is coming from in her decision making. Another issue that I had with Natalie is that she is so awkward and rude to people (not as much when the setting is at a community event); I’m not sure if this was a conscious choice by Lora Inak to write her this way but it almost works. You get to see why she might be considered stuck up to other people. The writing flows a lot better in the community scenes so it might be that it was a conscious choice by the author or if that is just where she felt more comfortable.
All in all, I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. It was insightful and refreshing to read a book centring around a different culture from my own, in a country that is not my own (though I think we all are able to agree that most contemporary books take place in America…) and tackling issues that I hope not to encounter in my life. I love own voice books and would definitely recommend this to somebody who wants to read something from a different perspective
Was this review helpful?
Natalie is living two lives. One, with her traditional Christian Orthodox community, and one with the boy she loves. You'll follow Natalie's life as she goes through emotional upheaval and tries to figure out which person she really is. 

I wasn't really sure what to expect with this book since I don't know a lot about Christian Orthodoxy, but it was an interesting glimpse into their lifestyles. I will admit, however, that the level of upheaval and her reconciliation both seemed really unrealistic.
Was this review helpful?
I read this entirely in one day... it was very interesting for me personally because I work with some people who are right in the exact community that this book is about... I work with girls who believe that their purpose is to settle down and have babies and look after the house, and the husband will earn all the money and give them an allowance, and maybe they'll work part-time to get out of the house a little but only if they're not needed at home... and I don't really understand them and still don't after reading this, haha! It annoyed me how restrictive it all is, how Natalie doesn't even think she can have a future with Chris because he's just a regular Aussie boy. Also how her parents won't let her go to parties or the school formal or anything, and how her father so utterly controls what everyone is allowed to do - at least at first!
Was this review helpful?
A great coming of age story! Out of my comfort zone in genre but I still enjoyed this more than I thought I would!
Was this review helpful?
Thank you NetGalley for providing me with this ARC of  Unspoken Rules  in exchange for this honest review.

I really didn't like Natalie. I felt she underestimated, and too quickly judged, those who were actually the most valuable and honest people in her world: Chris and Kate. 

While I understood her hesitation in the relationship she began forging with Chris, I felt he invested more. Natalie, for all her beliefs and focus on values, was the one person who acted with the LEAST amount of integrity in the simplest of situations. 

Yes, fear is a powerful thing--particularly of much of it stems from disappointing your community--but Natalie forever seemed to operate on the wrong side of right: with her sister, with Kate, with Chris, and (most importantly) with herself.

As with any character that's searching for who they are, an epiphany is expected, and Natalie is saddled with more than a few. This evolution, I'm sure, is meant to redeem Natalie? However, for me at least, by the time she did "grow up", I wasn't interested in her story anymore. 

Overall, it was a pretty good book, but I wasn't a fan of its main character.
Was this review helpful?
A goos read, but felt the ending was rushed. Was quite disappointed.
Was this review helpful?
This is one of the books that carry cultural differences and the plot is taking to experience the juggle between strict parents trying to represent what their culture stands for and 'normal life' outside the family house. I enjoyed this book because it built the atmosphere so well, all the characters were playing according to their element and, you know, together it presents -these cultural differences what Western world know. 

Unspoken rules slowly and slowly added more and more drama to the plot, I imagined to explode it all at once, but it did not, which was great. A little predictable but not for everything! 

Natalie is a regular teenager with Syrian background, but she and her family live in Australia in estate where everyone else more or less has similar background. Her life is very busy - school and home, two separate, but she wishes once she could break the culture stigma. She thinks her eldest sister is over drama queen in their home, all her friends are representing 'normal' Australians, she dreams of attending college far away from home and gain the freedom. But she falls in love quite unexpected, tries to deny her own feelings and pretends she is not....

I enjoyed the growth for all the characters, from the beginning of the book till the very end.
Was this review helpful?
Posting on my blog on 8/18/17
Natalie is a seventeen-year-old Syrian Australian living in the suburbs of Melbourne with her parents and older sister. They go to the Christian Orthodox church which is strict, and the expectations of her parents who are still used to the customs of Syria, Natalie is very limited in what she can do. While her best friend understands it, she also gets annoyed with it at times, when Natalie can't even have a sleepover, or judges her for things that she doesn't think are bad. 
Then we have Natalie's older sister, who follows all the customs and just wants to get married already before she is an 'old maid' (she's in her early twenties).
We also have a love interest, who ends up shaking things up and helps Natalie to realize some things she really wants to do in her life.

Overall I really did like this story. Reading about an Australian Syrian isn't something we get very often as most immigrations stories we see in YA that are well publicized are coming to America or Britain, so seeing someone adjusting to the Australian culture was really nice. 
Natalie's story is one that a lot of young women will be able to relate to when it comes to dealing with strict parents and religious expectations placed on them by the community they are a part of. Natalie desperately want's to be her own person, and not just someone's wife. She wants to further her education and be able to use it so she can tell what is really happening in Syria.
When it came to Natalie's family it was nice to see parents actually be involved and to actually see them as parents. Yes, they are flawed and make big mistakes, but it was nice to see a real family for a change. Mom and Dad, both have their own problems and expectations to be placed on them. Natalie's older sister while annoying at times, is also just trying to do what is expected of her in their culture, and when things start happening to her she doesn't know exactly how to handle it. 
Natalie has a lot going on in her family life and her school life as well, and those two lives are ones she's tried to keep separate for the most part, but it's reaching a point when the two will collide as she finishes high school and she might just not be ready for that.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed reading this book! I read this book in one sitting because I could not put the book down, I highly recommend reading this book!
Was this review helpful?