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Paradise Rules Paperback – July 12, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books; Original edition (July 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451608454
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451608458
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,454,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Wickedly funny. Ballsy and bold. An authentic adolescent narrator who you can't help but love. I found myself thinking about Gates long after I finished the book. I think this will be Gleacher's breakthrough book."
-- James Frey

“PARADISE RULES is hilarious, disturbing, and stylish. Gleacher writes about the untapped subject of the gray area created when a teenage boy and an older woman enter a sexual relationship. Gleacher writes about this taboo sexuality in an adventurous fashion through a 17 year old narrator who bursts with heart even during his most mischievous moments."
-- Pittacus Lore, author of the New York Times bestseller, I AM NUMBER FOUR

"PARADISE RULES is alternately sweet and dark, exploring an older woman's sexual relationship with a teenage boy. We see the opposite all too often and Gleacher's take is unique, navigating all the confusion and destruction, yet there is humor woven into every beautiful page."
-- Jill Kargman, author of SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE A NUT

"PARADISE RULES is one of the funniest and provocative coming of age novels I've ever read. Once again Jimmy Gleacher has managed to be simultaneously heartbreaking and hilarious."
-- Carolyn Karasyov author of THE INFIDELITY PACT

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

paradise rules

i wish I could say I was a victim but I willingly played into the devil’s hands. My reasons weren’t always right and my justifications weren’t just, but my weaknesses were common. My name is Gates and I’ve been sexually deviant since the day I hit puberty. In the last week I almost killed one man and swindled a fortune from another but those are not my greatest sins. I’m seventeen years old and I may have just ruined my life.

I go to public school here in Boulder, Colorado, and just finished junior year. Everyone calls me Casper because I never hang out but people like me so I’m considered a friendly ghost. Nicknames are cool unless they’re stupid like mine. I also caddy at a country club and my nickname there is Fun Buns. Being a teenager can be a bitch like that but I’ve had it pretty easy. I don’t really look funny and I play a varsity sport so all I really need to do is keep my head down and do my time until I can go away to college.

I have two best friends. A girl named Melanie and a guy named Timmy Timmy Timmy. Timmy Timmy Timmy’s real name is just Timmy but his OCD makes him repeat the final word of every sentence three times so everyone calls him Timmy Timmy Timmy or 3T’s for short. Most kids would probably want to chug a bottle of drain cleaner if they had the same affliction but Timmy Timmy Timmy’s the best looking guy to have ever walked the halls of Boulder High. He’s literally a model and half the time he isn’t even in school because he’s working in New York or Los Angeles or Miami or anywhere else they need someone good-looking. He makes more money than our principal.

Not many kids want to hang out with Timmy Timmy Timmy. Speech impediments and high school go together like explosive diarrhea and international plane flights. But every month 3T’s picture is either in a fashion magazine or on the cover of a clothing catalogue so no one ever messes with him because if they did he’d steal their girlfriend faster than they could say Abercrombie & Fitch Fitch Fitch.

My other best friend is Melanie Vanleer and she’s the reason I’m sitting here today writing this all down. Until a few days ago Mel and I were a couple and for a while everything was perfect until she wanted to have sex. She’s two inches taller than me and can hit her driver two hundred and fifty yards. She’s a jock but not a tomboy because she likes to wear dresses and paint her nails. We started hanging out the spring of our sophomore year when we both made the varsity golf team. I was the number one player and she was the number five player, on the boy’s team. Some of the older guys kinda hated us for that so they ostracized us but we were outcasts by then anyway. She was an oversized jock in a world where girls were sticking toothbrushes down their throats to stay undersized and I was the loner who missed an entire year of school because his mom Chernobyled and got shipped off to the loony bin. But we had golf and the game was as much a diversion for Mel as it was for me and in each other we found a partner for our escape.

At first we didn’t kiss or flirt or even flirt with flirting but then I fell for her. She’d never be a cheerleader and she’d always be big boned but she was a beautiful athletic girl and more importantly had a soul worth loving. All the other girls in our school, even the smart and nice ones, still seemed like a work in progress while Mel carried herself like a finished product. There’s probably five hundred places I could start this story but I’ll begin from only twelve days ago when Mel and I were playing golf and she hit her ball in a sand trap. Mel was wearing a periwinkle skirt and a white sleeveless top and her arms and legs were already tan. Her shiny black hair was tied into pigtails with periwinkle ribbons. Periwinkle made her blue eyes brighter so she wore the color often. Mel was no dummy. When we got to the bunker we found her ball in a deep footprint that someone should have raked. Mel laughed at her bad luck when a lot of other people would have cussed. I picked up her ball, smoothed out the footprint and carefully placed it back in the original spot.

Mel said, “Um… I may not be the high school state champion for the third consecutive year but I’m pretty sure that’s a no-no.”

“Paradise Rules, baby.”

“Baby?” She laughed. “That’s pretty racy talk for such a prude. What the hell is Paradise Rules?”

“Paradise Rules. If you don’t like your lie you can fix it with no penalty.”

“Oh, you mean cheating.” Mel picked up her ball and dug her foot into the sand to make a new, deeper print and then put the ball back. I loved her for doing that. She opened up the face of her wedge and swung straight down at the ball and it popped onto the green and rolled right past the hole. It was a good shot and I loved her for that too. I loved her for calling me Prude and for wearing periwinkle and for using the word hell. I loved her for everything that made her who she was.

We walked up on the green and Mel squatted behind her ball and tried to determine which direction the grain would break her putt. She made a good roll at it but missed the cup on the low side by a couple of inches and she shook her head as she flipped the ball up with the back of her putter and caught it in midair. Something came over me and I blurted out, “You don’t know me, Mel. Not the real me.”

“I don’t?” Mel held the flagstick a few feet from the cup and casually stood with a hand on her hip and one foot crossed behind her ankle. I placed my ball on my mark and my hand was shaking but Mel didn’t notice because she was staring west at a long horizontal cloud covering the foothills nearby. She smiled but wanted me to putt so we could move on to the next hole. The girl loved to play fast and I loved her for that. She glanced at my ball as a signal for me to hurry up and wasn’t taking my attempted confession seriously.

I relaxed, sank the putt and we started walking to the next tee but Mel stopped short and turned on her heels and grabbed the front of my shirt. “You got three seconds to say whatever the hell it is you’re trying to tell me.”

I tried to make her let go but she was really strong. “Jesus, Mel. Calm down.”

“The fuck I will. You’ve been beating around the bush for the past three months that you want to tell me something, so tell me.” She caught me completely off guard and that had been her plan, playing it cool on the green with her hand on her hip as she stared into space all the while waiting to pounce. She’d make a great hustler, another reason to love her. All I was getting was reason after reason after reason to love her so I decided if she gave me one more reason I would tell her the whole sordid truth.

“It’s nothing, alright?”

“Pussy,” she said, and let me go. And that was the last reason I needed to love her: my girlfriend called me a pussy.

So I had to tell her, I wanted to tell her, I’d been dying to tell her but it didn’t seem realistic to tap her on the shoulder and just lay it all out. So I guess that’s what this story is all about: how I was finally able to spill my rotten guts.

We finished the round in peace and I got on my bike and rode to Harmony’s Rest, a retirement home where I read to senior citizens. Phyllis, the woman who gave me the volunteer job, was waiting with a copy of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. She was seventy-five and not too many years away from living in the home herself but she was pissed at me and any woman who’s angry, young or old, is a force to be reckoned with.

Phyllis greeted me with a scowl and a pointed finger. “What made you think you could read them a book about the mafia and I wouldn’t find out? These people are fragile. You can’t fill their heads with hit men and pistols. Mrs. Green woke up the entire floor screaming in the middle of the night because she thought a man named Carlo was trying to lock her in the trunk of his car.” She crossed her arms, lowered her chin and stared me down, but then in a friendlier tone added, “If you’re not going to follow my rules, this won’t work.”

I felt badly about Mrs. Green but everyone hated The Awakening and asked me to sneak in “racier” material. “Can I at least read them something from this century?”

Phyllis handed me The Awakening and said, “My way or the highway… Carlo.”

I headed to the dining hall where an elderly group eagerly awaited the finale of Mob Slob, a shoot-’em-up comedy about the bumbling son (Carlo) of a mafia kingpin who botched hits on purpose because he didn’t want to murder anyone. We had one chapter left and the crowd wanted to know if Carlo was gonna flip to the feds but instead they got The Awakening.

After a few pages everyone was asleep except for an old blind man named Cliff who wore big black boxy sunglasses that hid half his face. Cliff always sat right next to me and we were pals. He covered his ears and said, “Stop! What happened to Carlo?”

“The gig is up, Cliff.”

He grimaced. “It was Greeny, wasn’t it? I knew she was a weak link.” One thing about retirement homes, the people move slowly but the gossip doesn’t. “Bring in something saucy tomorrow. I’ll handle Greeny.”

I looked around the room. Two of the napping seniors had drool dripping down their chins. “I can’t, Cliff. I promised Phyllis I wouldn’t.”

Cliff patted my knee and said, “There’s...

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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It's seemingly so wrong, yet it's somehow alright!
Glad I had second thoughts and wanted to read the book first so I could be sure about my comments.
I loved the tone and humor that really worked with the very believable characters.
Mary Bookhounds

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Biblioholic on September 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
I originally noticed Gleacher's book because the cover has a quote: "Wickedly funny." I was going to post a scathing review about the insensitivity of finding the rape of a teen boy amusing. Glad I had second thoughts and wanted to read the book first so I could be sure
about my comments. Paradise Rules is exceptionally sensitive without being preachy.

I read Paradise Rules last night straight through. Gates, who was sexually groomed at age fifteen by his much older godmother, is now a high school junior in love with a girl his age. His messy, barely-supportive world becomes even more unbalanced as he struggles to grow up.

Gleacher did an excellent job of leading me into this boy's world of golf-hustler, a missing father, crazy mother, colorful friends, a gambling-addicted boss, uncountable challenges and genuine love for a girl amid continued exploitation by his godmother.

The book IS wickedly funny. It pulled me gently into Gates' life without causing me to pity him. Captivated, I tumbled along with each situation that pushed and pulled him in unnerving directions.

I suggest it as a great read for YA, and also people like me who are many decades older than Gates.

Jimmy Gleacher has written a book that makes me feel like I've already seen the movie, and I will never forget it. When can I see it on the big screen?
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Format: Paperback
First Sentence: I wish I could say I was a victim but I willingly played into the devil's hands.

Gates is a self-described sexual deviant, 17 years old, working as a caddy at a country club. His mother had a nervous breakdown two years ago, and he was molested by his godmother Alicia, a child psychologist and his mom's best friend. Since they still live with Alicia, the molestation continues, and it's causing Gates problems with his girlfriend, who would like to sleep with him.

I know that many readers would find this book hilarious. I'm not one of them. Most of the adults here do nothing but take advantage of and/or ignore the teens, with the clubhouse owner using Gates to win illegal bets, a clubhouse patron who gives Gates the nickname of "Fun Buns" because he can't keep his hands off his bum, and more.

Gates is likeable (he even volunteers to read to seniors at the local retirement home); his bestie named Timmy is a model with OCD who repeats the final word of every sentence three times; and his girlfriend Melanie is a jock and his best friend. Unfortunately, almost every single adult in the novel is eminently unlikeable or at best, definitely not in the realm of "normal".

I've seen this one described as "irreverent", "provocative", and "bold", but for this reader, molestation is not a funny subject. Here is a teen whose life is in the crapper, and there is really no one there to help pull him out. There's a bit of a surprise at the end, but it wasn't enough to redeem the rest. If it were billed as an adult book, I might give some of it a pass, but it's billed as YA. In my opinion, this is an adult novel written about a teen, and is definitely not one I'd encourage for the younger YA set.
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By J A on October 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
The author balances every adolescent boy's wet dream (sex with a hot, older, mature woman {that sadistically happens to be his mother's lesbian lover}) with the harsh reality of statutory rape through a similar dark and humorous romp that endears and engages his audience the way "Dexter" successfully convinces us to cheer on a serial killer. It's seemingly so wrong, yet it's somehow alright!

The reader can't stop hoping for, even rooting for Gates to win; in life, like he consistently does on the golf course. Cleverly crafted, like an errant shot that gets a good bounce off the fringe, our main character narrowly escapes hazardous traps that could sink not only him, but multiple players in his life's overly-complicated foursome including his mother, his lover and HS girlfriend; not to mention his girlfriend's dysfunctional family, his friends and his hustling caddymaster/boss with a gambling problem.

Like grinding out a 72 hole tournament when you're off your game, Gates makes the turn and his journey takes him from the caddyshack to the clubhouse, from victim to victor and from a child to a champion...and throughout course of it all, Gleacher never misses a stroke!
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More About the Author

Jimmy Gleacher is the author of the three novels, Paradise Rules (Gallery Books 2011,) Silly Little Rich Girl (Casperian Books 2009,) and It's How You Play the Game (Scribner 2003.) He is also the screenwriter of the film HE'S SUCH A GIRL (Lionsgate UK, 2010.) He lives in Boulder, Colorado.

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