If there was such a term called “book spirituality” it would refer to how the right books come into your grasp at the right times. If such a thing exists however call me a bookagnostic as I’ll never be able to provide evidence on how to distinguish between a mere coincidence and the work of a higher power.
I’ll definitely say with firm belief that when I took one look at The Rules Do Not Apply By Ariel Levy I knew I had to read it. There was something magnetic about it besides the pink-orange aesthetically pleasing cover. In a previous post, I mentioned how Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert discussed the few things that were rushing into my mind about writing. This book does entirely the same if not more. It talks about being independent, being a journalist, knowing when it’s time to say no, and trusting your intuition. It also talks about enduring profound loss, taking notice of other’s previously concealed pain, and surrendering to the mysteries of mother nature.
For starters, Ariel Levy talks about her early days as a journalist navigating through New York City to pick up her first stories. We from the get-go understand Levy is your independent and intrepid female who doesn’t need a man/women to fill any void in her life.
“People have been telling me since I was a little girl that I was too fervent, too foreceful, too much. I thought I harnessed the power of my own strength and greed and love in a life that could contain it.” (Page 2)
In several ways she reminds me of myself whose always been pretty independent and on just on her own wavelength. Adventures and writing those are the two areas of life that make me feel complete. I believe there comes a sort of pride with simply just being on your own and all that you need. She’s a women who from her childhood wanted to “be free to do whatever she” chose (Page 3).
As Ariel’s career moves forward and she is given assignments for New York and The New Yorker magazines, she ventures into unknown territory knowing or at least hoping her stories will play out. For example, she ventures into South Africa without any previous connections to write up a story about the running sensation Caster Semenya. There is some self-doubt when she sees some dead-ends but overall she possesses a greater sense of hope to meet Caster Semenya. Guess what? She does end up meeting her. The way opportunities fall into Ariel’s lap as well as how loss comes her way gave me eerie vibes while reading. I do not mean to discredit Ariel’s work, but whenever she truly wanted success it did come her way. Also, whenever she did something wrong other negativity came her way.
Daring to think that the rules do not apply is the mark of a visionary. It is also a mark of narcissism. (Page 11)
However for someone as outgoing as Ariel, her ambitious life as a journalist comes with several surprises. It becomes colored by the brightness of love and marriage but also dimmed by the heart-breaking realities of loss and her partner’s alcohol addiction. The Ariel who initially stated, “To become a mother, I feared, was to relinquish your status as the protagonist of your own life” (Page 9), after marrying her partner embraced motherhood of her own. Unfortunately, marriage as with other things is never perfect. If readers thought Ariel’s affair, weariness of being confined in marriage, and her love for her alcohol addicted wife were bad enough, Ariel loses her only child a baby boy.
When she goes to Mongolia pregnant for a story, she embraces the idea of her baby boy. Unfortunately that baby boy dies soon after birth due to Ariel’s ectopic pregnancy and Ariel’s life turns upside down. She was already near her 40’s and chances of conceiving again were little. Ariel didn’t just want any boy she wanted that boy. She receives consolation from her mother, company from her friends Emma and Matt, and finds strength to separate from her unhealthy partner, but even with all the positivity a deep sadness still lingers in Ariel.
“When I had no idea that all over the city, all over the world, there were people walking around sealed in their own universes of loss, independent solar systems of suffering closed off from the regular world, where things make sense and language is all you need to tell the truth.” (Page 157)
When Ariel is on a plane to Africa towards the end of the novel, she realizes that “Nature. Mother Nature” is free to do whatever she chooses and that “what had stayed intact” was her “curiosity” and hope. (Page 204). She learns life is unpredictable, but ultimately it is at times out of her control.
Of course there is way more to this novel then the details mentioned above. There are friendships, events, and an overall journey to “adulting” that a person will have to simply pick up this book to learn about.