The Rules of Us
Come out. Break up. Stay friends? In this heartwarming queer love story about love of all kinds, exes navigate new crushes, new feelings, and a newly uncertain future after unexpectedly coming out to each other on prom night turns their lives—and their friendship—upside down. Can they figure out how to move on without losing each other?
Jillian and Henry are the kind of couple who do everything together. They take the same classes, have the same hobbies, and applied for the same super-competitive scholarship so they can go to the same dream college. They even come out as gay to each other on the same night, after junior prom, prompting a sudden breakup that threatens their intertwined identities and carefully designed future. Jillian knows the only way to keep everything on track is to approach their breakup with the same precision and planning as their scholarship application. They will still be “Jillian and Henry”—even if they’re broken up.
Except they hadn’t planned on Henry meeting the boy of his dreams or Jillian obsessing over a cool girl at school. Jillian is desperate to hold on to her best friend when so much else is changing. But as she and Henry explore what—and who—they really want, it becomes harder to hold on to the careful definitions she has always lived her life by. Stuck somewhere between who she was with Henry and who she might be on her own, Jillian has to face what she can’t control and let go of the rules holding her back.
On the night that Jillian Bortles approaches her longtime boyfriend, Henry Yoo, about losing their virginities to each other, the unexpected happens—they both come out to one another as queer. Despite the revelation, the two New Yorkers vow to remain best friends and continue to pursue the future they've been building together, which involves snagging the coveted Purdy Memorial Scholarship, attending Oneida Polytechnic Institute, and starting their own video game company. They enter the summer with a set of rules meant to guarantee their success in staying friends: "no fighting, no messing around, no more running, Purdy first." But when the Purdy scholarship committee requests that they sign up for summer experiences that demonstrate their well-roundedness, Jillian and Henry find themselves separated for the first time ever, and new crushes, old hurts, and tightly held secrets create fissures in their friendship. Through Jillian's intense and emotionally raw first-person POV, Nissley (The Mythic Koda Rose) depicts the duo's codependent relationship and eventual untangling with earnest nuance, making for a tender portrait of a girl on the cusp of adulthood trying to reconcile the future she thought she'd have with the one she is heading toward. Jillian is white and Henry is Korean. Ages 14–up.