Review: Rules For 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern

Review: Rules For 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern
Published by Farrar on November 24th 2015
Pages: 352
Source:via Netgalley

A heartrending but ultimately uplifting debut novel about learning to accept life's uncertainties; a perfect fit for the current trend in contemporary realistic novels that confront issues about life, death, and love.

Seventeen-year-old Rose Levenson has a decision to make: Does she want to know how she’s going to die? Because when Rose turns eighteen, she can take the test that will tell her if she carries the genetic mutation for Huntington’s disease, the degenerative condition that is slowly killing her mother. With a fifty-fifty shot at inheriting her family’s genetic curse, Rose is skeptical about pursuing anything that presumes she’ll live to be a healthy adult—including going to ballet school and the possibility of falling in love. But when she meets a boy from a similarly flawed genetic pool, and gets an audition for a dance scholarship in California, Rose begins to question her carefully-laid rules.


When I saw Rules for 50/50 Chances on Goodreads, I knew I needed it in my life. First, genetic stuff is so fascinating to me. Always has been, and now having a kid with a de novo (which is basically a new mutation, the first in his lineage- meaning his parents don’t have it) dominant genetic mutation makes me even more curious. And Huntington’s is one of the the worst genetic hands a person can be dealt. The book goes into a good amount of detail, so I won’t bore you, but I have read (and seen shows) about people with it, and it is freaking horrific.  It’s dominant, which means any child whose parent has it has a fifty percent chance of also having it (hence the title, of course). And since it doesn’t usually manifest until after most people would have had children, Rose’s parents had no idea they could be having a child with a death sentence. A painful, awful one at that.

So we have Rose, only child to doting parents. Mom has Huntington’s, and is spiraling downward, and fast. Rose is going to be graduating soon, needs to decide about college, her future, and of course, the big old “Do I Have Huntington’s?” cloud that has been hanging over her head since she was 12. Rose is a ballet dancer, and quite a good one. She’d like to continue with it, but it’s hard to find schools that have ballet and college academics. She’s found one, but across the country. And there’s a boy, and a best friend. We’ll get to all that.

I am going to break down each element that I want to talk about and give it a positive (+), negative (-), or neutral (+/-) at the end. Just to help with the overall rating. Plus, YAY, new stuff!367973-how-i-met-your-mother-thats-right

The main character: Rose, our main character, reminds me of myself a bit. She’s a worrier, she’s a pessimist, and sometimes she pisses off the people around her with her negativity and whining. But I didn’t mind that at all, to be honest. Rose has a lot of stuff going on in her life. Yeah, some of it is normal teenager stuff, but her mom is going to die, and she may have the same awful illness that she has watched destroy her mom. So you try to be sunshine and rainbows. I feel like she learns a lot about herself during the book, and this is a very, very good thing. (+)

The family: Rose’s family is  the absolute heart of this book. Her mom will break your heart into a million pieces, and her dad will put them back together. Even her grandma is awesome. Not everything is always happy, quite the contrary. But no matter how difficult it all gets, Rose’s family is there with her mom, loving each other, and it is freaking beautiful. (So many +++)

The relationship: Caleb is the love interest, and we meet him in like, chapter one. Things I liked about Caleb: the diversity (and the diverse conversations it brings to the table), and his family is awesome as well. But I felt like there wasn’t much personality behind Caleb. I didn’t “know” him at all. I knew facts, but I had no sense of who he was as a person. And it bugged me (even though it didn’t bug Rose) that he refers to her as “HD” (Huntington’s Disease) throughout the whole book. Romance at its finest? Also, I didn’t like how he treated her sometimes. He liked to talk down to her when she didn’t know certain things about Sickle Cell (the condition his mom and sister have) and when she is being a bit irritating. Like, yeah, she was being a pain in the ass for a little bit, but the way he said stuff just bugged me. Also, I didn’t feel any chemistry, even when there were kissing scenes and such. (-) 

Rose’s journey: I liked that Rose had several decisions to make. Yes, the Huntington’s test was a big one, but she also had to make choices about college, and her relationship with Caleb, and her best friend Lena. I will say that I knew how this book would end from page one. I mean, even before that. I hoped it would be different and prove me wrong, but it didn’t. So while I liked that Rose was getting to know herself better, I did find it to be pretty predictable. (+/-)

Trains!!: Yes, trains were big in this book. I loved the symbolism, and I loved their practical use. That’s all I am saying about it, but it was a really great addition to the story, in more ways than one. (+)58

Bottom Line: I liked this one. It was emotional of course, with amazing family elements and growth of character. There were a few things that were a bit of a turnoff for me, but overall it was quite well done.


This begs the question: would you want to know if you had the disease? I think I’d have to know. The not knowing would drive me far crazier than any bad results could. 

Posted November 12, 2015 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Review / 13 Comments

13 responses to “Review: Rules For 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern

  1. I have been waiting to see this pop on someone’s blog because I am so interested in this. The blurb totally hooked me. I am so glad there is a strong and positive family presented here. Stinks the love/romance part wasn’t great (HD – really???) As far if I would want to know – Yes. I couldn’t not know because then I would just worry about it. Still sounds like a book I will totally pick up at some point – Great review!

  2. This is the first I’ve seen of this one. There are elements that seems intriguing but not really enough to make me want to grab it up and start reading immediately. I do love to see that family plays a strong role – both Rose’s and Caleb’s. Refreshing to come across a YA contemporary where the parents/family are a) present and b) actually supportive. Kudos for that!

  3. This wasn’t a book that was on my radar, but I’m so intrigued with the fact that it deals with Huntington’s disease. And you make a very strong case for the book, especially with the family relationship being the heart and soul of the story. I’m a little disappointed with the romance not having that much chemistry, but I think I can disregard that part.
    I loved that you used a Sheldon gif! 🙂
    Lovely review, Shannon!

  4. I would definitely want to know. My review for this one is posting tomorrow and I think I touch on that lol. It’s impossible to know how I would ACTUALLY feel if it were me, but I feel like I would absolutely have to know. I couldn’t live my life wondering like that.

    I liked this book a lot overall but definitely thought Rose was a little annoying at times. She was pretty self-centered when dealing with her boyfriend, even though he could have been less of a butthead about it too. Idk, I didn’t fully connect with her but the topic and journey definitely overshadowed that for me.

  5. I don’t know why, but I really like when you’ve read a book before me. I haven’t seen any reviews for this title before hand, and I have to review this soon, so your review has me really, really excited to begin. I wish the love interest was more swoon-worthy, and I don’t like the idea that he talks down on her throughout the book. Like seriously HD? I would kick his ass if he ever thought he’d refer to me that way. I do love that family plays a big part in this book, (YAY for realistic) and that she’s a ballet dancer. I’m just so intrigued to read more about this disease. Bravo on the great review Shan Ban 🙂

  6. Cee

    Oh boy, this seems like a hearbreakinnnngg book. I’m always fascinated by how people process the possibility of having Huntington’s disease. It’s scary, and I don’t know if I would want to know myself.

  7. I’m glad you enjoyed this one! I have the ARC too and now I know it’s worth the read (I’ve been so bad at reading ARCs…). I LOVE that there’s such a good family dynamic that takes precedence, this excites me though I worry the love interest is going to leave something to be desired. =( Excited to read this one, great review, Shannon! (I won’t even complain about having to read another book because of you). =D

    Um…I think I would have to know. I would also drive me insane and I would be in the biggest panic to find out and…it would not be pretty.

  8. I like the title. The romance sounds horrible, but the family aspect is really intriguing! My first thought was that I wouldn’t want to know, because we could all die at any moment, so does it really make that much of a difference knowing? But of course it does, and of course not knowing would drive me crazy, so I might. Impossible to say without being in the situation though.

  9. I completely agree, even though Rose IS a pessimist, she definitely has a lot to be concerned with in her life. I’m just glad she has that positive influence with her mum to help her through life! Caleb kind of sounds a little too pretentious or like a know-it-all – kind of reminds me of Gus. This was a really fun review to read Shannon!

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