Book club

Diving into “No Rules,” a memoir

Chloe Smith

More stories from Chloe Smith

Book Club
March 10, 2021

After finishing “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo last week, I figured the next book I pick up for Book Club would be something a bit lighter and less intense. 

The book I have chosen to read for the next few weeks is “No Rules” by Sharon Dukett. 

“No Rules” is a memoir that was recently released in 2020. It follows Sharon — the author and narrator — as she comes of age in the 1970s. 

Sharon’s journey begins in 1971 when she decides to run away from her home in Connecticut at 16 years old for a more free, hippie lifestyle in California.

Once Sharon reaches California, she’s thrown into a world she isn’t prepared for. The book follows her as she attempts to find herself through her independent travels and adventures across North America.

When I first started this book, I was expecting a vivid depiction of Sharon’s teen years full of exploration, love and maybe even some drugs.

So far, that is exactly what I’ve been given. 

The book started off strong with Sharon packing and preparing to run away with her 21-year-old sister to California, but once they arrived at their destination, California quickly turned out to be nothing like they had expected.

The sisters were greeted by a man named Ed who offered them blunt “wisdom” about life in the state. He told them they needed to be careful around strangers because they could never be completely safe as young women living on their own.

Ed offered them drugs and a place to sleep for the night, which the girls gladly accepted. He even invited the girls to come party with him and his friends later on in the week. 

The next day, the girls went and found an apartment and met two new guys named Bob and John. Sharon was immediately taken with Bob, so the girls invited Bob and John to go to the party with them.

Ed took this very poorly. He was angry with the girls for bringing strangers to the party because they could’ve been “narks.” This made the girls feel naive and ignorant which Ed then took advantage of. 

Sharon quickly fell into a relationship with Bob who was constantly traveling and jumping in and out of her life for weeks. This made her feel vulnerable and turned her toward her only other friend in California: Ed.

Ed, as I mentioned, took advantage of Sharon’s youth, manipulating her for sex. Thankfully, Ed doesn’t stay in the picture very long. 

Sharon learned that she had a sexually transmitted infection which she either got from Ed or Bob. When both men learned of this, they abandoned her.

“No Rules” so far seems to be exactly as the title suggests. Sharon at 16 was able to explore everything the world has to offer while I, at the age of 21, can barely go to the grocery store by myself. 

The story is very fast-paced without much filler, making it a very quick read. 

The content of “No Rules” could be triggering to some readers because of mentions of sexual assault and drug abuse, making it difficult to read at some points. 

Despite that, I am fascinated by the world Dukett is weaving with her story, and I’m excited to see what happens next for her.

Next week, I’ll give my updated thoughts on “No Rules” as the story moves with Sharon to Boston, Mass. 

Smith can be reached at [email protected].