Review by Jessica
They tell me I’m lucky to have a son who’s so verbal, who is blisteringly intelligent, who can take apart the broken microwave and have it working again an hour later. They think there is no greater hell than having a son who is locked in his own world, unaware that there’s a wider one to explore. But try having a son who is locked in his own world, and still wants to make a connection. A son who tries to be like everyone else, but truly doesn’t know how.
Jacob Hunt is a teenage boy with Asperger’s syndrome. He’s hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, and like many kids with AS, Jacob has a special focus on one subject–in his case, forensic analysis. He’s always showing up at crime scenes, thanks to the police scanner he keeps in his room, and telling the cops what they need to do…and he’s usually right. But then his town is rocked by a terrible murder and, for a change, the police come to Jacob with questions. All of the hallmark behaviors of Asperger’s–not looking someone in the eye, stimulatory tics and twitches, flat affect–can look a lot like guilt to law enforcement personnel. Suddenly, Jacob and his family, who only want to fit in, feel the spotlight shining directly on them. For his 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 of why nothing is normal because of Jacob. And over this small family the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?
Emotionally powerful from beginning to end, House Rules looks at what it means to be different in our society, how autism affects a family, and how our legal system works well for people who communicate a certain way–and fails those who don’t.
While I haven’t read every book by Jodi Picoult, I would consider myself a fan of hers. The books I have read (The Pact, Nineteen Minutes, and Vanishing Acts to name a few) are about real people living real lives in real situations. In, House Rules, high school senior Jacob Hunt has Asperger’s Syndrome which is a high functioning form of autism. I don’t have first hand experience dealing with someone with Asperger’s, but I imagine it’s very much like Emma explains it in House Rules. I also think Jodi Picoult did a great job of explaining what it must be like inside the head of someone with this form of autism. Desperately wanting to have friends but not having the ability to make them.
We get a chance to see the story unfold from each of the character’s perspectives, including Jacob’s. How his very literal mind deals with the sarcastic ridden world he lives in. How difficult it is living in Jacob’s world where each day is a constant struggle to make sure nothing throws off his routine. Throw in a crime scene of Jacob’s social skills tutor, and a big trial and you have a book you can’t put down.
I would definitely recommend this book!