The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir
Publisher: Random House (Audio)
Date: March 2017
Duration: 4 hours 53 minutes
A gorgeous, darkly humorous memoir about a woman overcoming dramatic loss and finding reinvention—for readers of Cheryl Strayed and Joan Didion
When thirty-eight-year-old New Yorker writer Ariel Levy left for a reporting trip to Mongolia in 2012, she was pregnant, married, financially secure, and successful on her own terms. A month later, none of that was true.
Levy picks you up and hurls you through the story of how she built an unconventional life and then watched it fall apart with astonishing speed. Like much of her generation, she was raised to resist traditional rules—about work, about love, and about womanhood.
“I wanted what we all want: everything. We want a mate who feels like family and a lover who is exotic, surprising. We want to be youthful adventurers and middle-aged mothers. We want intimacy and autonomy, safety and stimulation, reassurance and novelty, coziness and thrills. But we can’t have it all.”
In this profound and beautiful memoir, Levy chronicles the adventure and heartbreak of being “a woman who is free to do whatever she chooses.” Her own story of resilience becomes an unforgettable portrait of the shifting forces in our culture, of what has changed—and of what is eternal.
Advance praise for The Rules Do Not Apply
“I read The Rules Do Not Apply in one long, rapt sitting. Unflinching and intimate, wrenching and revelatory, Ariel Levy’s powerful memoir about love, loss, and finding one’s way shimmers with truth and heart on every page.”—Cheryl Strayed
“Every deep feeling a human is capable of will be shaken loose by this profound book. Ariel Levy has taken grief, and made art out of it.”—David Sedaris
“Ariel Levy is a writer of uncompromising honesty, remarkable clarity, and surprising humor, gathered from the wreckage of tragedy. Her account of life doing its darnedest to topple her, and her refusal to be knocked down, will leave you shaken and inspired. I am the better for having read this book.”—Lena Dunham
“A great memoir is not a trip through someone else’s life, but a series of long looks into your own life. Ariel Levy’s book—grieving, hopeful, painful, funny—is that.”—Amy Bloom
“It’s become a truism that feminists are living out our mothers’ unlived lives. But Ariel Levy seems to be living out the unlived lives of an entire generation of women, simultaneously. Free to do whatever she chooses, she chooses everything. But this is no mindless primer on having or not having it all. While reinventing work, marriage, family, pregnancy, sex, and divorce for herself from the ground up, Levy experiences devastating loss. And she recounts it all here with searing intimacy and an unsentimental yet openhearted rigor.”—Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home and Are You My Mother?
“The Rules Do Not Apply is heartbreaking, brilliant, and disarming, the kind of book that may change you. Ariel Levy writes with a beauty that is ferociously honest and with the fervor of an explorer. She tells the story of being a confident young woman on a path of her own making—filled with books, love affairs, travel, ‘unseemly’ success. And then, unflinchingly, she recounts what happens when that path swerves to a place of staggering, unthinkable loss. No one else has written so insightfully about the current legacy of feminism’s ‘lavish gift’ of freedom. Levy has a voice unlike any other. This is a devastating and inspired book.”—René Steinke, author of Friendswood and Holy Skirts