Rules For 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rules For 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern | Book ReviewRules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern
on November 24th 2015
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

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.

You guys – as I am wont to do, I read Rules For 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern sooner rather than later due to another blogger, specifically,Brittany at The Book Addict’s Guide, tweeting about it. I do not think I am the only person who does this. She just made McGovern’s debut sound so good and just emotion filled. You all know me, I am always, always in the market for an emotional read. And so, I read the book, not really remembering why I requested it in the first place and only knowing that there’s something to do with a disease and emotions. Goodness did this book deliver on the emotional front.

Rules For 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern opens up with main character 17 year old Rose Levenson participating in a charity walk with her family. The walk is for rare genetic diseases. Rose is dreading the walk because A) they always give out too large t-shirts and B) she feels that her mother’s disease, Huntington’s disease is hopeless and she cannot pretend to be happy. However, Rose’s mind changes when she is drafted into volunteering to help out instead of actually walking. She ends up meeting this guy Caleb, who is there because his sisters and mother have Sickle Cell Anemia. The two bond and he takes to calling Rose HD for Huntington’s Disease. Eventually the plot of the book moves in a direction where we learn that Rose is holding herself very guarded because she has the fifty percent chance of having the gene for Huntington’s Disease and so, she must make the decision to get the test to be sure.

I really loved Kate McGovern’s depiction of Rose. She’s such a well rounded character. Rose is a ballerina who attends public school in Boston – but she’s in AP classes. She loves her family fiercely. She is highly disciplined and has all these arbitrary rules regarding her life. It’s interesting, Rose keeps putting off filling out college applications because she is afraid to live her life — due to Huntington’s Disease. She doesn’t want to fall in love or have kids because what if they get the disease too. I should probably backtrack – for those who don’t know – Huntington’s is a rare genetic condition where one loses physical abilities as well as mental facilities by 40. It is absolutely depressing and serious and after reading this book, I wish there was more research for it. Anyways, so, Rose has some important decisions to make and I cannot blame her for wanting a modicum of answers and certainty in her life and also for being so scared of love and happiness. Her potential fate is cruel.

Oh and just a quick side bar – Rose’s best friend Lena is such a treat to read about. She’s bold and supportive and it is such a positive portrait of female friendship. No malaise or backstabbing here.

The love interest of Rules For 50/50 Chances is utterly fantastic. Caleb goes to private school. His parents are a doctor and a professor at Harvard. Caleb is so smart and unwilling to put up with less than fair treatment from Rose. I loved that he called her HD and that more importantly, he called her out on her BS. I love that they are able to have frank conversations about race. You see, Caleb is Black, and he often points out privilege to Rose. It’s interesting to me how I think that there’s intersectionality in this book, if I am interpreting what that means correctly. So there’s race, there’s gender, there’s even class mentioned in the book. In addition to ableism as well. I loved that these things were addressed. I also really enjoyed the progression of their relationship and the ups and downs. I thought McGovern made it very realistic.

So, there’s something to really be said for Rules For 50/50 Chances and the writing style McGovern employs. The book is a quick read – and my attention was consistently pulled in by the plotting and the characterization. I found that although sometimes Rose made choices that were different from the ones I would have made, I empathized with her. I loved reading about her and her family. It was super sad to see how Huntington’s Disease affected her family. I found myself really rooting for all of them and just wanting a magical cure to help – but like real life, that doesn’t happen. This is a superb debut – especially if you’re looking for something with great characters and that will give you some vivid feelings.

Other Reviews of Rules For 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern:

No Bent Spines – “What I am trying to get across is this book- it’s okay

This Blonde Reads – “you’ll want to read this one.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I quite enjoyed Rules for 50/50 Chances! It was a total surprise, as I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into it. But I really like how McGovern depicted Rose and her response to the situation she was in, and I couldn’t stop reading once I’d started!

  2. Thank you for the fantastic review!
    This sounds like a great book; I love that the main character is so easy to sympathize with, I love that the love interest calls her on her BS and has frank conversations with her because I think that’s an area a lot of YA books lack at and I adore the fact there is a great best friend in this book.
    Also, yay diversity!