Rules for 50/50 Chances – Katie McGovern


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 tells 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 her dream career in ballet 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 across the country, Rose begins to question her carefully laid rules.


This book was extremely frustrating. I hated how Rose spent the entire book deliberating over her choices (so many choices!), with so little to show for it. Yes, there is no way that I could understand her position (or Caleb’s position, or anyone’s position, as McGovern elaborates on throughout theentire novel). But I’d want to know my HD status right away, and I’d want to pursue my dreams if given a golden opportunity. The “culture” and the “fit” may seem intimidating at first, but there’s nothing quite like being one of the best and earning recognition for hard work in the past. Why go through the whole ordeal only to turn around? I just don’t understand.

The California Zephyr journey could have been its own road trip story. It felt like a strange interlude dropped into the “bigger picture” of Rose’s life.

I found the discussion on socioeconomic class and race to be intriguing. I wish Rose engaged in the discourse and opened herself up to LISTENING with an open mind, rather than acting cagey and shutting down these discussions. In general, Rose is very self-absorbed. Yes, she’s a teenager — but so are Caleb and Lena. Rose didn’t grow as a character at all.

This book was difficult to read at times, and I definitely shed a few tears. I just wish the characters were more likeable and the plot was more conclusive.

Related Reading

  • Don’t Ever Change – M. Beth Bloom
  • Proof of Forever – Lexa Hillyer
  • When You Were Here – Daisy Whitney
  • OCD Love Story – Corey Ann Haydu

Rating: 3/5


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