I’m not 100% sure what first made me pick up The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy, but in hindsight I can’t help but wonder whether there was some sort of universe-invoked gravitational pull coming from a divine spirit that was urging me to read this book at exactly the right time I needed to read it.
As a queer woman myself, I’m constantly on the lookout for books about other queer women – not only because I think it’s important to be represented and be able to see parts of yourself in the work of others, but also to learn more about other people’s experiences that are different from your own.
So for me to pick up a book that was (to my surprise) a memoir from a woman in a long-term, same-sex relationship who writes about her experiences when she was a similar age as I am now, I naturally glued myself to said book and zoomed through it in a few short sittings!
Ariel Levy’s memoir is the best book I’ve read in a long time.
As a writer at The New Yorker and author of the feminist classic, Female Chauvinist Pigs, it’s no wonder Ariel’s writing about her life is such a beautiful and striking story of love, loss and, some might say, rebellion of what is traditionally expected from western women in their twenties and thirties. The title of this book says a lot about Ariel’s attitude towards her own outlook on life, gender, sexuality and feminism and I found it immensely refreshing to hear from someone who doesn’t claim to have it all together.
I found it immensely refreshing to hear from someone who doesn’t claim to have it all together
Ariel bravely shares with readers her and her wife’s experience of getting pregnant at 38 years of age and how, in a tragic set of circumstances, she lost her baby alone in a hotel room while in Mongolia on a work trip. This is a story of grief, of courage and of how different people cope with loss. Ariel’s depiction of her grief and how she came through her horrific miscarriage is incredible to fathom and there were times I felt I had to put this book down to process it properly.
For me, it was so interesting and refreshing to read about a same-sex couple – their experiences of getting married and how Ariel, as a more ‘feminine’ lesbian, dealt with people’s reactions to her sexuality and identity. I thought her depiction of her and her wife’s relationship was so honest, raw and respectful considering all that they have gone through together.
This book deals with a lot of difficult topics – loss, addiction, alcoholism, miscarriage – but somehow, Ariel’s writing remains beautiful, open and engaging. It is a true masterpiece and I think so many readers, of all genders and ages, will find solace in these pages.
It left me wanting to read more books like this one so if you have any recommendations of books by/about queer-identifying women, please let me know in the comments below!