The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
A Memoir

68%

15 Critic Reviews

Levy is an incredibly talented writer who has built a solid body of work, but “The Rules Do Not Apply” does not have the same energy that her magazine writing is known for.
-Star Tribune

Synopsis

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A gorgeous memoir about a woman overcoming dramatic loss and finding reinvention

“Cheryl Strayed meets a Nora Ephron movie. You’ll laugh, ugly cry, and finish it before the weekend’s over.”—theSkimm

One of Time’s Best Non-Fiction Books of 2017 So Far

When Ariel Levy left for a reporting trip to Mongolia in 2012, she was pregnant, married, financially secure, and successful on her own terms. A month later, none of that was true.

Levy picks you up and hurls you through the story of how she built an unconventional life and then watched it fall apart with astonishing speed. Like much of her generation, she was raised to resist traditional rules—about work, about love, and about womanhood.

In this “deeply human and deeply moving” (The New York Times Book Review) memoir, Levy chronicles the adventure and heartbreak of being, in her own words, “a woman who is free to do whatever she chooses.” Her story of resilience becomes an unforgettable portrait of the shifting forces in our culture, of what has changed—and of what is eternal.

Praise for The Rules Do Not Apply

“Levy has the rare gift of seeing herself with fierce, unforgiving clarity. And she deploys prose to match, raw and agile. She plumbs the commotion deep within and takes the measure of her have-it-all generation.”—The Atlantic

“[The Rules Do Not Apply] is a short, sharp American memoir in the Mary Karr tradition of life-chronicling. Which is to say that Levy, like Karr, is a natural writer who is also as unsparing and bleakly hilarious as it’s possible to be about oneself. . . . I devoured her story in one sitting.”—Financial Times

“It’s an act of courage to hunt for meaning within grief, particularly if the search upends your life and shakes out the contents for all the world to sift through. Ariel Levy embarks on the hunt beautifully in her new memoir.”—Chicago Tribune

“I read it in one big messy gulp, because it is beautiful and heartbreaking and unruly and real. You should preorder it immediately so you can fall into her complicated, funny, and finely wrought world as soon as humanly possible.”—Lenny.com

“A thoroughly modern memoir, the elements of The Rules Do Not Apply seem plucked not from the script of Girls, which has also been exploring reproductive issues of late, but Transparent—even Portlandia.”—The New York Times

“Frank and unflinchingly sincere . . . A gut-wrenching, emotionally charged work of soul-baring writing in the spirit of Joan Didion, Helen Macdonald, and Elizabeth Gilbert, The Rules Do Not Apply is a must-read for women.”—Bustle

“Unflinching and intimate, wrenching and revelatory, Ariel Levy’s powerful memoir about love, loss, and finding one’s way shimmers with truth and heart on every page.”—Cheryl Strayed

“Every deep feeling a human is capable of will be shaken loose by this profound book. Ariel Levy has taken grief and made art out of it.”—David Sedaris

“Ariel Levy is a writer of uncompromising honesty, remarkable clarity, and surprising humor gathered from the wreckage of tragedy. Her account of life doing its darnedest to topple her, and her refusal to be knocked down, will leave you shaken and inspired. I am the better for having read this book.”—Lena Dunham
 

About Ariel Levy

See more books from this Author
Ariel Levy is a contributing editor at New York magazine. This is her first book.
 
Published March 14, 2017 by Random House. 225 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Gay & Lesbian, Health, Fitness & Dieting. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Apr 16 2017
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for The Rules Do Not Apply
All: 15 | Positive: 11 | Negative: 4

Kirkus

Good
on Dec 26 2016

The honesty with which Levy confronts her youthful hubris and its consequences makes powerfully compelling reading. With dignity and grace, this former golden girl eloquently acknowledges how the fact that “everybody doesn’t get everything” in life is “as natural and unavoidable as mortality.”

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Kirkus

Above average
Reviewed by Julie Danielson on Jun 15 2012

Given this new friend, I can only hope for a follow-up title from Janik. Synonyms, infinitives, gerunds, conjunctive adverbs: I think she could make just about any of them interesting.

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Kirkus

Above average
on Jan 01 1984

...there's little momentum in noble Sasha's meandering, 25-year climb. Still: an often-entertaining exercise in speculative Kremlinology--with intriguing, ugly, or darkly amusing details--from the co-author of The Spike and Monimbo.

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Star Tribune

Below average
Reviewed by MEGANNE FABREGA on Mar 24 2017

Levy is an incredibly talented writer who has built a solid body of work, but “The Rules Do Not Apply” does not have the same energy that her magazine writing is known for.

Read Full Review of The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir | See more reviews from Star Tribune

The Independent

Good
Reviewed by LUCY SCHOLES on Mar 15 2017

Her narrative rattles along at the breakneck pace of a gripping thriller, yet her writing is never anything short of crystal clear.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Good
Reviewed by Wendeline O. Wright on May 07 2017

Ms. Levy’s insight shows that even in the darkest of nights, there may still be a light, however small, that can lead you onward.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Leslie Jamison on Apr 03 2017

This book is haunting; it is smart and engaging. It was so engrossing that I read it in a day. But it’s also a deeply uneven book whose power in some moments only illuminates the absence of this force elsewhere.

Read Full Review of The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir | See more reviews from NY Times

20Something Reads

Good
Reviewed by Allison Sharp on Mar 23 2017

For those finding the models of maturity unattainable, for those struggling with defining themselves even with the growing options offered, for those who have felt hollow while following all the rules, this book will resonate.

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The Sydney Morning Herald

Good
Reviewed by Helen Sullivan on May 03 2017

The Rules Do Not Apply asks what happens when you can no longer control how the story unfolds. The result is a dependable antidote to loss and a valuable life lesson – with a happy (or at least intriguing) ending to boot.

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London Evening Standard

Above average
Reviewed by ROSAMUND URWIN on Mar 16 2017

So it’s interesting that the New Yorker writer’s second book, a memoir, confronts a feminist taboo: the cruelty of biology.

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Ploughshares Literary Magazine

Good
Reviewed by Lillian Brown on Mar 01 2017

She’s unapologetic in a way that is often only seen in fictional women, whose worst fallout is a cancelled TV series or poor sales at the box office...voices and stories like Levy’s are necessary.

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National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Jamie Fisher on Mar 16 2017

It’s Levy’s voice in The Rules Do Not Apply that wins us over, at once commanding and vulnerable...With its hot pink cover, Levy’s memoir seems covertly retrogressive.

Read Full Review of The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir | See more reviews from National Post arts

Financial Times

Good
Reviewed by Isabel Berwick on Mar 17 2017

I devoured her story in one sitting. It felt, well, greedy. But “greedy” is how the author characterises herself, so it seemed fine, hopeful even, to read her work in the same way, perhaps absorbing as I went a tiny bit of Levy’s remarkable resilience and appetite for life.

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http://socialistreview.org.uk

Below average
Reviewed by Sarah Creagh on May 24 2017

The book is compelling to read and tells an interesting story that raises a number of wider issues. However, this memoir doesn’t contain a broad political narrative or much attempt to draw objective conclusions.

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http://ew.com

Good
Reviewed by Leah Greenblatt on Mar 14 2017

If Levy comes off as self-lacerating and self-regarding in equal measure, well, you can’t spell memoir without a “me” and an “i”…and her “me” is still more interesting than most.

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