Saturday, April 3, 2010

House Rules

House Rules: A NovelI know some people think Jodi Picoult's books a bit formulaic, but I love them! They always rekindle my love of reading and I tend to go on a reading tear after reading one of her books. There have been a few disappoints, including Change of Heart, so I was very glad that I enjoyed her latest, House Rules.
House Rules is about a family where the older son as Asperger's, a high-functioning form of autism. I have been anticipating this book since I heard she was writing about that topic a while ago. I'm intrigued by autism and since her books are also so carefully researched I knew I would learn more about it through her book. I think my interest in the topic goes back to elementary school when I read Kristy and the Secret of Susan, one of the Baby-Sitters Club books. I think it was the first time I'd really read about someone with a disability, and we had a special elementary school in my district for kids with disabilities, so I had never met someone with one at that point in my life. I found Susan's abilities amazing and wondered how the brain could work that way, and the trade off her being stuck in her own mind.
Jacob, who has Asperger's is able to interact in ways that Susan couldn't, so that he can seem almost "normal" some of the time. This mix of not being clearly autistic but not functioning like a typical person is the crux of the book. A woman is dead, and Jacob is suspecting of her murder. His Asperger's causes him to act guilty, but is he? And if he is, is he reponsible for his actions? I enjoyed the mystery aspect of trying to discover if he did it or not, and even though I guessed early on what happened, since Picoult is known to through in twists I couldn't be sure if I was right until the end. Every time I put the book down, I couldn't wait to get back to it and find out what happened.
I don't think it has been very well reviewed, but I really liked it and would recommend it, and especially thought it was stronger than Change of Heart, which is probably one of my least favorites of her books. I also liked that is wasn't depressingly sad like some of her other books. I do think the reviewers are right in that she focused more on research of the legal and medical aspects of the stories, but I actually felt that worked well since Jacob is the focus and he focuses on those things, not the emotional elements. And she still did a good job of creating different perspectives and having the voices sound different, especially Jacob's. So overall, I think it was a great book!

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