Thursday, June 21, 2012

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

When your son can't look you in the eye...does that mean he's guilty?

Jacob Hunt is a teen with Asperger's syndrome. He's hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, though he is brilliant in many ways. But he has a special focus on one subject - forensic analysis. A police scanner in his room clues him in to crime scenes, and he's always showing up and telling the cops what to do. And he's usually right.

But when Jacob's small hometown is rocked by a terrible murder, law enforcement comes to him. Jacob's behaviors are hallmark Asperger's, but they look a lot like guilt to the local police. Suddenly the Hunt family, who only want to fit in, are directly in the spotlight. For Jacob's mother, Emma, it's a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother, Theo, it's another indication why nothing is normal because of Jacob.

And over this small family, the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder? (from GoodReads)

I love immense love and adoration for Jodi Picoult and her novels. Her books are always informative, thought-provoking and extremely readable. I have trouble putting them down and even though they are usually long, I can read them so fast. House Rules was no different than this.

Asperger's is not something I'm unfamiliar with. My neighbor has Asperger's and my cousin has autism (though it's very high-functioning). Even with these relations, I still learned so much about this developmental disability. I'm pretty sure Jacob was an extreme case of Asperger's in that he had every trait, but I think it was good to highlight exactly what Asperger's entails. I especially loved getting his point-of-view, and seeing exactly what he thought. I was actually surprised that Jodi Picoult decided to write it, but I'm glad she did.

Throughout the novel, we also get Jacob's mom's perspective, which I loved. She was an amazing woman and you could tell she loved her two sons so much, even though she had to struggle as a single mother. She would do anything for Jacob and it's apparent when she's dealing with his murder charge.

I thought the mystery/court case aspect was very well-done, but it was frustrating that they just didn't ask Jacob what happened, because supposedly he can't lie and doesn't do it very well. The whole time I was wondering who the real culprit was, and we do get an answer to that eventually. I was also disappointed in the ending - it was very vague and I thought that was unfair to readers who invested so much in the story and characters.

Overall, I thought House Rules was an excellent addition to Jodi Picoult's portfolio and it stands up against some of her best novels. Now I can't wait to continue reading her work - she has so many books!

Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.

2010/Atria/532 pages


We Heart YA said...

Glad you enjoyed it! We read this one a while ago and were pleasantly surprised by the (relatively) light/humorous tone, compared to the other Jodi Picoult books we've read. Don't get us wrong, we like the heavy stuff! This was just kind of refreshing and different for her. :)

Like you, we really wished someone would just ASK Jacob. But sadly, in real life, a lot of times people DON'T say or ask things clearly. How silly, right?

Briana said...

I love Jodi Picoult! Actually... I've only read one of her books (Perfect Match.) But I really loved that book and hope to read more from her in the future.

My mom works with mentally challenged children, some who were diagnosed with Autism, so I think this book would be really interesting for me to read since I know a little about it.

I actually just read a book that had a small part of autism in it, Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys. You should check that out if you're interested :)

Simply_Megan said...

I love Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys! I think it was one of the first YA books I read.