When she was growing up in a suburb of New York City, Ariel Levy learned she could do or be whatever she wanted—as long as she was never dependent on a man. Levy adopted this advice as a kind of mantra: She could have whatever she wanted. And she did...until she didn’t.
The building and losing of that perfect life is the subject of Levy’s excellent new memoir, The Rules Do Not Apply.
After starting her career as a journalist at New York Magazine, Levy landed a coveted staff writing position at The New Yorker, then met her future wife, Lucy, and settled into life in San Francisco.
A few years later, as if to prove that she could still do whatever she wanted, Levy had an affair, sending her marriage into a tailspin and amplifying her wife’s borderline alcoholism. What follows is a candid, tragic and at times very funny account of mending a relationship, losing a pregnancy and trying to maintain one’s sense of independence even when others are relying on you.
Levy treats herself like she would the subject of one of her stories, and reports on her triumphs and shortcomings with a critical lens that can’t have felt comfortable.
Is this story sunny? No. Is it unputdownable? Absolutely.