Hope Wellman has a childhood full of horrific memories, a bone chilling recurring nightmare, and a persistent paranoid sense of being followed that she would rather keep repressed. Is evil reaching from beyond the grave to capture the tattered remnants of her soul once and for all, is it only a machination of her disturbed mind, or is there something happening more sinister than even she can imagine?
Attending the funeral of her abuser is the first step in putting her life back together as she is about to turn twenty-one. She struggles with the fact she never told anyone what happened to her, and that the grave they are mourning over is empty. She'd find it a lot easier to move on and believe in the future if he were in the box, ready to be covered with dirt. She fears the last thread of her sanity has snapped when she sees Lucas everywhere she turns, and can't escape a recurring nightmare. Is her tormentor alive, or is she imagining it? Is her dream triggered by past fears or is it a prediction of the future?
Marie Drake shares her experiences and the emotional turmoil of abuse survivors in her novel, Three Rules. The main character, Hope, had been abused since she was a young girl by her uncle, Lucas. When he is pronounced dead, she believes that this is her chance at happiness. Though struggling with an obsessive disorder, nightmares, and depression, Hope tries to come to terms with what happened to her so that she can move on.
Hope is a character true to name. She's the symbol and the theme of the novel. Readers will immediately empathize with her past and join her quest for a better quality of life. Drake doesn't put a strong focus on what Hope looks like, and by giving her a verb for a name, she becomes a representation for the reader. This technique allows readers to create mentally create the character in such a way that it's easy for them to form a connection. Throughout the novel, Hope shows loyalty to her friends and family, exhibits the ability to love, and the need to be loved in terms that don't have an abusive undertone. She's a strong character who evolves into a brave woman.
The plot of the Three Rules follows Hope's life after the death of her abuser. While she searches for closure, people around her keep getting hurt causing Hope to believe that her abuser isn't really dead after all. Three Rules is full of heartbreaking reality and true struggle. It has no problem reaching the souls of readers. Though the dialogue does seem forced at times, even a bit awkward and formal, the message is clear.