The Summer of Broken Rules (2021)

by K.L. Walther
ASIN/ISBN: 9781728210292
Publication: May 4, 2021

Although still grieving her older sister’s death, Meredith and her parents finally return to Martha’s Vineyard for her cousin’s wedding. When the family’s summer tradition of playing Assassin commences, she’s determined to win for her sister. The summer brings with it an added surprise when she finds herself bonding with a groomsman and can’t help spending more time with him throughout the week.

The Summer of Broken Rules was a lovely escape not only for Meredith but for me as well. For a few hours, I was at Martha’s Vineyard enjoying a week-long game of assassin with a close-knit family while celebrating a wedding and on the edge of a meaningful relationship. While the book isn’t perfect, it provided an unexpected but welcomed distraction from reality.

Assassin as a family tradition was the initial draw for me, and the game did not disappoint. Not only was it hilarious to see the lengths players would go to “kill” each other, the things individuals did to avoid their assassin were just as amusing. One scene in particular made me laugh out loud as a standoff took place and then a chase ensued. This was the perfect setting to demonstrate how close the families were to each other and how Claire’s death affected everyone, not just Meredith. It pushed the book to more light-hearted territory even though Meredith was still trying to navigate life without her sister. Walther realistically portrays what grief is like, not as something that can be overcome, but something we learn to live with daily. It’s a constant ache, often hidden away, but can hit at any moment as it does to Meredith repeatedly throughout the week as her happy moments on the island are often interspersed with bouts of grief.

I was thankful Walther didn’t give me instant love nor was the romance packaged as true love but only suggests the possibility of it. Not only is Wit good looking with a playful demeanor but he is attuned to Meredith, more so than her ex had ever been. Without the expectation of a relationship, Wit and Meredith are honest in their interactions with each other. Sometimes it’s the people you’ve just met that you can tell nearly anything to, without the fear of judgment precisely because they don’t know much about you. I enjoyed their banter and the positive changes Wit appeared to have incited in her, helping her recognize what she’d been missing in her previous relationship as well as offering her a peek at what it means to effortlessly click with someone. The evolution of their relationship, even though it was only a week, felt genuine, as though it could lead to something long-lasting. (I’m a total romantic so I’m always hoping for that forever after.)

With Meredith’s path to romance the focus of the book, there left little room for her to mend her relationships with the friends she pushed away. They felt more like props that appeared only when needed, but were nonexistent most of the time. I had hoped her friends would be given a larger role. In addition to her friends (when they were present), there are also many side characters that contributed to a fun read. Be forewarned though, there are a lot of them, and it was difficult to keep them all straight. But, it’s a wedding, so it’s reasonable that there would be so many people. Also, assassin is just a lot more fun with more people.

I enjoyed the book immensely, smiling after it was over. The Summer of Broken Rules is probably one of my favorite May reads. It’s one I can see myself reading again just to enjoy the crazy antics to win the game. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a light read, something that will provide a momentary escape from life’s obligations.

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