When thirty-eight-year-old New Yorker writer 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.
“I wanted what we all want: everything. We want a mate who feels like family and a lover who is exotic, surprising. We want to be youthful adventurers and middle-aged mothers. We want intimacy and autonomy, safety and stimulation, reassurance and novelty, coziness and thrills. But we can’t have it all.”
In this memoir, Levy chronicles the adventure and heartbreak of being “a woman who is free to do whatever she chooses.” Her own story of resilience becomes an unforgettable portrait of the shifting forces in our culture, of what has changed–and of what is eternal.
The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
Publication Date: March 14, 2017 by Random House
Daring to think that the rules do not apply is the mark of a visionary. It’s also a symptom of narcissism.
This quote essentially sums up my reading experience of Levy’s memoir. While I enjoyed her writing style, I was baffled by her immense lack of self-awareness and the fact that the idea of her privilege seems to be entirely overlooked.
It’s hard to be critical of the book because I don’t see how it’s fair to judge someone else’s experiences (and yes, she has had some immense losses in her life), but The Rules Do Not Apply was not relatable in the sense that I continued to feel disconnected from Levy’s inability to understand that her experiences are not the experiences of ALL women. Her use of “we” to discuss many of the choices she made in life frustrated me – it wasn’t being female that allowed her these experiences, but rather her privilege. That’s not to say her losses are not to be empathized with, but her discussion of those aspects of her life just felt very limited and self-absorbed.