Spotlight Wednesday: The Six Rules of Maybe, by Deb Caletti

Author Deb Caletti has a very special place in my heart, as she is one of three authors I credit with introducing me to (and subsequently hooking me on) contemporary YA literature, way back before I started writing for teens myself. Her books Honey, Baby, Sweetheart and The Queen of Everything helped me discover my own young adult voice and inspired me to begin work on the manuscript that would later become Twenty Boy Summer. I even had the opportunity to fangirl Deb in person at an event last year, and hopefully I only marginally embarrassed myself with my incoherent blathering and dramatic gushing (yes, it's important to have goals!).

A few weeks ago, I got my fangirly little paws on a copy of Deb's latest book, The Six Rules of Maybe. Here's the summary from her Web site:
Scarlett Hughes is overly involved in the lives of everyone around her, especially her neighbors, including: a young goth girl who chalks her very traditional wishes on the sidewalk; a forgetful mailman; and an older couple whose main excitement in their lives are the formal-sounding scam emails from foreign lands promising large sums of money.

But when Scarlett’s sister, Juliet, returns home from school—pregnant and surprisingly married to a sweet, handsome boy who she seems to have no interest in, but who is hopelessly in love with her—Scarlett is thrust solidly into her own life, and forced to take a look inward for the first time.

The Six Rules of Maybe is about the necessity of dreams, as well as the necessity of facing reality and speaking the truth.

What this summary doesn't say is that The Six Rules of Maybe is also about a teen who falls hard for her sister's hot, sensitive, funny, soulful, 23-year-old husband, Hayden. The dynamic between the two sisters and the husband is so naturally awkward and heartbreaking that I found myself cheering for Scarlett despite the messed-up-ness of the whole situation. She's just such a sympathetic, relatable character, always trying to protect people, always trying to right wrongs and save those around her even when she's being completely overbearing about it. And her sister is pretty self-centered on the surface, but the more time you spend with her, the more you sense the depth of her own issues and struggles. This book explores unrequited love on many levels through the eyes of each character -- Scarlett, her sister Juliet, their single mother whose husband left when the girls were toddlers, Juliet's husband Hayden, even Scarlett's neighbors and friends at school have their own unique views on relationships.

And the writing? Wow. Deb Caletti has such a way with words that I literally found myself talking to the book, shouting things like, "Yes! Totally!" and "OMG, I remember that!" and "I know exactly what you mean!" No matter where the action of the story unfolded, whether it was on the beach or in the car or in someone's kitchen, she just brought me there, like I was watching it happen in my own house or driveway. Her descriptions are beautiful and poignant, never flowery or overdone. And her dialogue is just so natural -- I seriously felt like I was eavesdropping on real people. It's so rare that a book hits me on all of those levels. What a gem.

I began the first chapter intending on reading for an hour, and then making dinner. By the time I reached the last line in Chapter 1, I figured we were in for a late meal. Well, Pet Monster and I went hungry that night, because I curled up on the couch under my blanket (the one with the sun, moon, and stars on it that I save just for date nights with fictional characters) and didn't move until I'd finished. And when I did finish, I let out a big, all-encompassing, isn't-life-simultaneously-exhausting-and-amazing sigh. And I really wanted to track down Deb Caletti's phone number right that INSTANT and for a little fangirl redux, but I thought that would be slightly stalkerish, especially since it was around 4 am. So I did the next best thing -- I tweeted about it.

And you know what? I was shocked -- SHOCKED! -- to learn that so many YA book bloggers and readers hadn't yet discovered the fabulousness that is Deb Caletti! That's when I knew I had to write about my undying Caletti-devotion for Spotlight Wednesday.

If you're one of these Caletti Virgins (you know who you are), I encourage you to visit The Six Rules of Maybe page, where you can read the first chapter, see what other people think about the book, and check out an essay Caletti wrote about some of the themes in the story. She also has 6 other books and a new one coming out in April 2011 called Stay.

If you're not new to the awesomeness of this contemporary YA author, what other Caletti books have you read? Which are your favorites?


Micol Ostow said...

Yay for Deb Caletti! I was at S&S when her first novel, THE QUEEN OF EVERYTHING, was acquired. EVERYONE (and I mean everyone) who read it fell in love instantly. And Sarah, I can see how her voice would have had an influence on your writing. What I love about her books is how she creates just believable, relatable situations without veering off into gimmicky, high-concept territory.

jenniferpickrell said...

This book sounds wonderful - I think I'm already falling for it, just from reading your summary! Definitely going on my TBR list.

jenniferpickrell said... I added the book to my handy-dandy Excel sheet, Deb's name popped up as already being on there with The Nature of Jade. So I have heard of her :)

Bee said...

I'm currently reading Stay. And yes, her writing is awesomesauce.
Love this post!

Bex said...

Thanks so much for introducing me to the awesomeness that is Deb Caletti! I am always on the lookout for good reading recommendations, especially for contemporary YA authors, which is one of the reasons why I love this blog. I just added Deb's books to my wish list and will start chipping away during my holiday lull (and post-writing deadline crash). You guys rock!

Kelley Vitollo said...

I am sad to admit that I have never read her. BUT I can promise you that will soon change. This book sounds incredible. Thanks for spotlighting her! I can't wait to read it.

Lisa Schroeder said...

Ooh, have to read this one - sounds good! I Loved HONEY, BABY, SWEETHEART!!

Claire Dawn said...

This sounds wow!

I'm adding it to my list 2k11

Kelley Vitollo said...

I picked up Wild Roses yesterday!

Nina B. said...

Wow I think this is really great, I'm going to go look for this one :D

By the way I'm a new follower.

Your Librarian said...

The Nature of Jade is my very favorite. I love how Caletti tosses in some complicated moral issues to really make readers think.

Melissa Walker said...

I loooved THE SECRET LIFE OF PRINCE CHARMING, and I can't wait to read more Deb!

writerchick6 said...

This will go on my list! I'm a HUGE Deb Caletti fan too and know I'd make a fool of myself if I ever got to meet her. When people ask me about the audience for Inconvenient, I say that if the girls like Deb Caletti and Sarah Dessen, they'd like it. But, really, that's my total HOPE. I love Caletti's voice and writing style. Really beautiful books.


Adeeva Afsheen said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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