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House Rules (Unabridged Audiobook) PDF, ePub eBook Teenager Jacob Hunt has Asperger’s syndrome. A forensic science wizard, he shows up at crime scenes and gives law enforcement officials his advice. But when his tutor is found dead, he becomes a suspect. Suddenly, his Asperger’s traits—not looking people in the eye, tics and twitches—look more like guilt in the view of police. And Jacob's mother must ask herself the hardes Teenager Jacob Hunt has Asperger’s syndrome. A forensic science wizard, he shows up at crime scenes and gives law enforcement officials his advice. But when his tutor is found dead, he becomes a suspect. Suddenly, his Asperger’s traits—not looking people in the eye, tics and twitches—look more like guilt in the view of police. And Jacob's mother must ask herself the hardest question in the world: is her child capable of murder?

30 review for House Rules (Unabridged Audiobook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Rosenberger

    Painfully obvious and predictable and filled with so much repetitive exposition about Asperger's Syndrome that it ultimately made me feel like i was being lectured by someone who has it and would not take the hint that I understood them the first time and get the freaking point okay??? Very disappointing.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"

    A good solid 3 1/2 stars I applaud Jodi Picoult for using her best-selling author position to educate people about Asperger's syndrome. She did extensive research and tried to present as much information as she could within the confines of a novel. At times this effort to educate interrupts the flow of the narrative, but I think she was striving for completeness. House Rules is a sort of "Primer on Asperger's" for people who may not otherwise seek out information on the condition. Picoult gives J A good solid 3 1/2 stars I applaud Jodi Picoult for using her best-selling author position to educate people about Asperger's syndrome. She did extensive research and tried to present as much information as she could within the confines of a novel. At times this effort to educate interrupts the flow of the narrative, but I think she was striving for completeness. House Rules is a sort of "Primer on Asperger's" for people who may not otherwise seek out information on the condition. Picoult gives Jacob every possible symptom of Asperger's in its most extreme manifestation. So of course, Jacob isn't like a real life "aspie" you might meet. He's a composite---the better to help people recognize the various behaviors and behave compassionately toward the person displaying them. Picoult also very effectively shows the impact on the entire family of a child with special needs. Henry, the absent father who walked out long ago because he couldn't deal with Jacob's situation. Emma, the mother who desperately loves her boy and sacrifices her entire selfhood to maintain Jacob's strict schedule. Theo, the "normal" younger brother who is often invisible to Emma and is treated by his peers as a sort of "freak by association" because of his brother. Jacob's needs always get priority, so Theo is usually left to fend for himself and finds secret ways of acting out to compensate for lack of parental attention. Don't expect much from the "mystery" itself. If you've read a few Picoult books, you probably do like I do---scoff at the implausibilities and the truly lame stuff, but devour them all the same. The woman can write! I complain a lot about present tense writing, but Picoult is one of the few who can do it so well that I barely even notice it. There's a lot of great humor in the book, much of it related to Jacob's Asperger behaviors. He's always quoting song lyrics and lines from movies because it helps to calm him or gives him something to say when he doesn't know an appropriate response. And the way he takes everything literally is sometimes hilarious. I never realized how much subtlety we assume in our communications that would be lost on a totally literal person. Jacob's attorney tells him to "pass me a note" if he needs a sensory break. So Jacob hands him a piece of paper that says "F#"(F sharp). Literally, a "note"! I hope I've focused on the things Ms. Picoult did RIGHT, because this is a worthy book on a timely subject, and I really liked the characters. There were places where I was laughing and crying for them at the same time. The thing Picoult did WRONG is the reason I can't go up to four stars. The ending sucketh! Big time. It felt like a huge cop-out and I don't understand what she was thinking. Don't we at least deserve an epilogue after we've invested so much in the characters? It's as if she said, "Okay, I've told you all you need to know about Asperger's syndrome, so I'm outta here."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    Confession time: I had no intention of ever reading a Jodi Picoult book. To me, her books were pretty much equivalent to Nicholas Sparks' books.* Formula: Mix one part "issue" with one part "sap" and one part "luuuuuurve", then swallow. If nausea occurs, try Pepto to keep it down. *Sparks' books are still ones that I have no intention of ever reading. I watched 'A Walk to Remember' and 'The Notebook'. That's enough for one lifetime. There's like 50 movies based on his books now or something, a Confession time: I had no intention of ever reading a Jodi Picoult book. To me, her books were pretty much equivalent to Nicholas Sparks' books.* Formula: Mix one part "issue" with one part "sap" and one part "luuuuuurve", then swallow. If nausea occurs, try Pepto to keep it down. *Sparks' books are still ones that I have no intention of ever reading. I watched 'A Walk to Remember' and 'The Notebook'. That's enough for one lifetime. There's like 50 movies based on his books now or something, and you know they're scraping the bottom of the barrel when Miley Cyrus is the best they can get to star act be filmed in one. *shudder* So when this was chosen for my bookclub, I wasn't exactly looking forward to it, and prepared myself to be reticent at the next meeting. Aside from that, I was worried about the portrayal of a teen with Asperger's Syndrome, particularly because the only other book that I've read with an autistic character was very disappointing for me. I couldn't help but mentally compare the two books, and my opinion of that other book was constantly reinforced: it just lacked substance, depth. It was just mediocre. House Rules was anything but mediocre. It was interesting, insightful, informative and fulfilling. I'm no Asperger's expert, but I thought that the book worked on many different levels at portraying not only the thought processes and behaviors of one who has it, but also of everyone that is affected by it. I felt that Picoult did her homework, and that she presented the traits, and possible causality, fairly and honestly. There are perspectives on whether heredity, or immunizations, or just randomness cause autism to develop, and I liked and appreciated that it was not treated as an excuse to demonize vaccines. I particularly empathized with Emma and Theo. Their perspectives were so raw and honest that I couldn't help but love them for it. Emma's raised two sons on her own for 15 years - something that is hard enough without throwing autism into the mix. Her whole life has centered around it. She's done everything in her power to give him the best life she can, and if she suffers for it, that's just part of the job. There were points in Theo's chapters where he'd be thinking something that an outsider would think is horrible, and even berating himself for it, and I would just sit there commending him for the things he didn't say. For example: "True confession number four: I don't sit around thinking about having kids, nor­mally, but when I do it scares the shit out of me. What if my own son winds up being like Jacob? I’ve already spent my whole childhood dealing with autism; I don’t know if I can handle doing it for the rest of my life." This is a superficially selfish thought, yes, but then I read the subtext to be that he's assuming he'd be around to take care of any kid of his who has autism. He'd stick it out, not leave like his own father did. He'd try to do the right thing, even if he doubts his abilities to do it. It makes me proud of him, and sad for him, at the same time. Because he's lived on the sidelines of autism for his whole life already. His childhood was constantly colored by the routines and the contingencies and the chaos of his brother's condition. To never have "normality" would have to be a terrifying, daunting thought. Regarding the mystery aspect, I pegged it pretty quickly - about 30% in. All the clues were there, and it wasn't hard to figure out. But I was still interested to see if I was right, or if there would be some twist, other than the one I predicted, to shock me. I kept being a little frustrated with the investigation too. This kid is extremely literal, and extremely honest. Why did nobody think to just ask him directly? I guess I understand why, honestly, but it was still kind of frustrating. And so for that, I knocked off a star. But the rest of the story, the personal and familial aspects, were fantastic. I loved it. Overall, this was a highly enjoyable book, and I will probably be picking up more of Picoult's books now that I know they aren't likely to be tapped for maple syrup anytime soon. ;)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Connie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Disappointing. While I enjoy Picoult's easy flow of writing and the creative way she informs the reader about issues and conditions like Asperger's syndrome, in this case, I found myself in constant "oh, come on" mode, as in: Spoiler alert - "Talk to your son, for crying out loud! You know he can only tell the truth and once he tells you he didn't kill her, why wouldn't you ask for more details? He's on trial for murder!" and "Talk to your brother! Once you know that he knows you were there, why wo Disappointing. While I enjoy Picoult's easy flow of writing and the creative way she informs the reader about issues and conditions like Asperger's syndrome, in this case, I found myself in constant "oh, come on" mode, as in: Spoiler alert - "Talk to your son, for crying out loud! You know he can only tell the truth and once he tells you he didn't kill her, why wouldn't you ask for more details? He's on trial for murder!" and "Talk to your brother! Once you know that he knows you were there, why wouldn't you ask him what else he knows and what he saw?" and "Everyone - talk to Jacob!" He always tells the truth, so ask him very slowly, step by step, what happened." I suppose there wouldn't have been much left to the story if people had spoken with Jacob early on but the truth of Jess' death was pretty clear midway through the story anyway. Then, all of a sudden, everything gets wrapped up in a neat little bow in the last 5 minutes, 15 seconds of the book (the audio version, anyway). Jacob really can care about others. Awwwww. Please.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    "House Rules" bills itself as a murder mystery with an Asperger's twist, but Picoult brings nothing original to either the mystery genre or books featuring characters on the Autism spectrum. I would chalk it up to a mindless, predictable read best left for the times a reader is stuck in an airport, except it is so incredibly long that the reader will have the "mystery" solved and be left to slog through 400 more pages. Much too long for a reluctant reader and too boring and predictable for an in "House Rules" bills itself as a murder mystery with an Asperger's twist, but Picoult brings nothing original to either the mystery genre or books featuring characters on the Autism spectrum. I would chalk it up to a mindless, predictable read best left for the times a reader is stuck in an airport, except it is so incredibly long that the reader will have the "mystery" solved and be left to slog through 400 more pages. Much too long for a reluctant reader and too boring and predictable for an intelligent one.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nicola Mansfield

    As a person with Asperger's I am dismayed with Picoult's portrayal of an adult with Asperger's Syndrome. Picoult starts off by showing us all the sources she has used for her research but once one starts reading it is obvious she is so full of research she doesn't know what to do with it. She has taken every possible symptom of both Asperger's and autism (which are two different diagnoses) and put them all into the character of Jacob. Not only is Jacob loaded down with every single symptom, each As a person with Asperger's I am dismayed with Picoult's portrayal of an adult with Asperger's Syndrome. Picoult starts off by showing us all the sources she has used for her research but once one starts reading it is obvious she is so full of research she doesn't know what to do with it. She has taken every possible symptom of both Asperger's and autism (which are two different diagnoses) and put them all into the character of Jacob. Not only is Jacob loaded down with every single symptom, each of his symptoms are of the most extreme variety. A real-life 'aspie' (as we call ourselves) will have some, perhaps even many, but certainly not all textbook examples, of the symptoms and then they are at varying degrees. What Picoult has done here is a disservice to the Asperger's community. From the mother: "Since there's no cure yet for Asperger's, we treat the symptoms ...". Asperger's is not a disease or an illness! There is no cure because one is not needed. Just from reading the positive reviews of this book I see the word "illness" being used over and over to describe Asperger's and that is because the book has left readers unfamiliar with AS with that impression. I could sit here and write an essay refuting all the quotes on the dog-eared pages I created while reading, but I won't. If you want a realistic view of a young man with Asperger's I urge you to read the book "Marcelo in the Real World" by Francisco X. Stork. The main character is 17 years old and is very comparable to Jacob only the author has done an excellent job in portraying Asperger's, showing the struggles we face but also shows that we do indeed function and do not need anyone's sympathy. BTW, I did give the book 2 stars because if I removed the whole Asperger's element I thought the mystery was quite interesting with a fun little twist to the solution.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lormac

    Jodi Picoult is far from my favorite author, so all you Picoultites out there, you might as well skip this review. I am interested in stories about people on the autistic spectrum with Asperger behaviors, so I thought I would give this one a try. Sigh. I should have known better. In Ms. Picoult's heavy-handed hands, the behavior of the protagonist with Aspergers is exaggerated and twisted simply for the benefit of the plot. Eating only foods of a certain color, but on different days, is not trad Jodi Picoult is far from my favorite author, so all you Picoultites out there, you might as well skip this review. I am interested in stories about people on the autistic spectrum with Asperger behaviors, so I thought I would give this one a try. Sigh. I should have known better. In Ms. Picoult's heavy-handed hands, the behavior of the protagonist with Aspergers is exaggerated and twisted simply for the benefit of the plot. Eating only foods of a certain color, but on different days, is not traditionally Aspergerian - maybe eating foods of the same color - but not blue food on Tuesday, yellow on Saturday, etc. etc. At one point, the protagonist re-orders some CDs that have fallen in alphabetical order, but children with Aspergers do not usually have a need to order everything they come across - if they have never seen it before and it is not within their area of fixation, they are more likely not to notice the disorder, or if they notice it, to ignore it. But because this is a plot point, suddenly it becomes a symptom of Aspergers. Further I have never read anywhere that Aspergers is a genetic disorder - but in this novel there is a clear implication that this is the case. And then we have the usual stuff that drives me absolutely CRAZY which is having the characters behave in ways that no one else in the world would do. For example, imagine yourself a mother with a son who has Aspergers and is on trial for murder, and that child has meltdowns whenever things go out of his routine so he is now regularly having meltdowns due to the pressure of the trial. Now imagine it is three a.m. on a February night in Vermont. Would you leave your son, run (yes, you heard me - run) across town to the office of your son's lawyer who has never shown an overt sexual interest in you, and have sex with him? Somehow I think most of us would be trying to get a good night's sleep, not catch pneumonia, and maintain a professional relationship with this man. That is why we will never be Picoult characters. Now, imagine yourself the defense attorney,and you have just heard at least three witnesses explain how Asperger children answer questions extremely literally (such as tossing a tent at you if you asked them to 'pitch a tent'). Do you think that you would ask your client a question like "Were you sorry you killed the girl?" No, because if the Aspergerian witness did not kill the girl, he would simply answer "No" since he hadn't killed her and therefore could not be sorry that he had done so. Sigh. Remind me not to try Picoult again.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Gerk

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I don't know why I do this to myself. I picked this book up because someone who read it and didn't want to keep it gave it away (thus, it was free). I wanted to read something that would be a breeze ( I have read Picoult before and find her writing style easy to fly through). However, having read Picoult before, I should have remembered that she keeps writing the same damn book! Yes, family in crisis, insert court case, insert forgotten sibling with bigger problems than others realize, insert one I don't know why I do this to myself. I picked this book up because someone who read it and didn't want to keep it gave it away (thus, it was free). I wanted to read something that would be a breeze ( I have read Picoult before and find her writing style easy to fly through). However, having read Picoult before, I should have remembered that she keeps writing the same damn book! Yes, family in crisis, insert court case, insert forgotten sibling with bigger problems than others realize, insert one sibling taking the fall for another, insert catty lawyer with dog.....etc etc etc. Hey, is this My Sister's Keeper or what? Anyway, it took about twenty minutes to figure out what had happened in this murder 'mystery', but I kept fooling myself thinking that there must be some twist I didn't expect. And, after so very many descriptions of Asperger's traits, including the fact that the main character, an 'Aspie' needs to be spoken to very directly and literally, how could Picoult string us along chapter after chapter after chapter as people in Jacob's life continually phrase questions in such a way that he is not forced to explain what happened?? Not to mention the fact that , as a person with Asperger's Jacob would have difficulty with turns of phrase, such as, 'get the picture' and 'what do you say?'. And yet, Picoult continually tosses in phrases that seem to stray pretty far from the literal speech you would expect Jacob to use. One of the first that I noticed was when Jacob mentions the Pythagorean theorem and how it was developed not by him, but by his ancestors.....before he was even 'a seductive twinkle in their eye'. Sounds like something of an odd turn of phrase to me. This happens on a number of occasions and I began to feel irritated by some of the narrative, thinking, this doesn't sound like something this kid should say. She seemed to flip flop on a lot of her 'symptoms'. Now, if Jacob had been consistently, painfully literal, it may have made for a really dull six hundred pages, but maybe, just maybe, it didn't need to be six hundred pages. Somehow, Jacob's mother, who shoves her knowledge of Autism and Aspergers down the throats of everyone involved, never thinks that she should ask her son literal step by step questions about what went on the day he allegedly murdered his tutor. Pfft, yeah right. That alone made this whole novel ridiculous. Filled with a whole bunch of turmoil, angst, and wondering: how did my son do this? How did my brother murder this girl? How did this happen.....but never asking the kid who has already been identified as rather incapable of lying. The only reason this even gets two stars is because Jacob's story revolving around his treatment and his normal, high school life interested me. I have researched Autism and Asperger's and have worked with children and adults with high and low functioning autism. Jacob was really the only character in this novel who had an excuse to make the mistakes presented. I pretty much wanted to punch every other character in the head. Wheeeeew. Rage complete. Good bye Jodi Picoult, this is the last time I will waste time on another one of your cookie cutter family crime dramas.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Li'l Owl ~ Incorrigible Reader

    Amazing! Emotionally powerful and charged with enough tension your nerves will buzz! Definition of Asperger's Syndrome according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Asperger syndrome (AS) is a developmental disorder. It is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), one of a distinct group of neurological conditions characterized by a greater or lesser degree of impairment in language and communication skills, as well as repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavi Amazing! Emotionally powerful and charged with enough tension your nerves will buzz! Definition of Asperger's Syndrome according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Asperger syndrome (AS) is a developmental disorder. It is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), one of a distinct group of neurological conditions characterized by a greater or lesser degree of impairment in language and communication skills, as well as repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavior.  The most distinguishing symptom of AS is a child’s obsessive interest in a single object or topic to the exclusion of any other. Children with AS want to know everything about their topic of interest and their conversations with others will be about little else.  Their expertise, high level of vocabulary, and formal speech patterns make them seem like little professors. Other characteristics of AS include repetitive routines or rituals; peculiarities in speech and language; socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior and the inability to interact successfully with peers; problems with non-verbal communication; and clumsy and uncoordinated motor movements. Emma When the boy's were little, we had house rules. I'd write them on the bathroom mirror when they were in the tub so that the next time the room steamed up, they would magically appear: commandments for a toddler and his painfully literal autistic brother, laws that were not to be broken. 1. Clean up your own messes. 2. Tell the truth. 3. Brush your teeth twice a day. 4. Don't be late for school. 5. Take care of your brother; he's the only one you've got. One night Jacob had asked me if I had to follow the rules, too, and I said yes. But, he pointed out, you don't have a brother. Then I will take care of you, I said. However, I didn't. Oliver will stand up in court today, and maybe the next day and the next, and try to accomplish what I have unsuccessfully tried to do for eighteen years now: make strangers understand what it is like to be my son. Make them feel sympathy for a child who cannot feel it himself. When Theo's done in the bathroom, I go in. The air is still thick with heat and steam; the mirror's fogged. I can't see the tears on my face, but it's for the best. Because I may know my son, and I may believe viscerally that he is not a murderer. But the odds of a jury seeing this as clearly as I do are minimal. Because no matter what I tell Henry—or myself, for that matter—I know that Jacob isn't coming home. ****** House Rules by Jodi Picoult is a story that's fully loaded with a title wave of mixed emotions! Emma has no life of her own as every minute of every day is eaten up by the needs of her son, Jacob, who has Asperger's syndrome. Brother, Theo, is essentially lost in the shuffle, always in the shadow of Jacob's needs, barely a blip on his mother's radar. Their father, Henry, left them shortly after Jacob's diagnosis. Jacob's struggles with AS is expertly portrayed and to say that I learned a lot about the disability is an understatement! I found it particularly interesting to discover that one of the symptoms of AS is a heightened sensitivity to touch, like Jacob's description about having to remove tags from clothing and how uncomfortable buttons on shirts are. I actually understand that quite well as my fibromyalgia causes the same thing. It's the reason that I'm most comfortable in soft baggy pajamas that don't rub against my skin as much as fitted clothing does. There are worse things in life! It gave me a fascinating, up close and personal view into just how difficult it is to raise a child with AS, no less as a single parent. Then there is the profound impact it has on a sibling. It's not hard to imagine just how lost and unnoticed they must feel, with the exception of being laughed at or left out when it comes to making friends. The emotional toll it takes is nothing short of profound. As a lover of forensics I was somewhat able to enjoy Jacob's obsessive intrest in forensic criminology. When Jacob is charged with the murder of his social skills tudor, Jess, the sense of apprehension and suspense continues to escalate. By the time the trial began my heart was in my throat and my nerves were on high alert! I could not put this book down! I was so absorbed in the story that I barely noticed turning the pages, even though it's a 500 page novel! I simply couldn't put it down! I've read Handle with Care which I really enjoyed, especially because I'm a pediatric nurse and have taken care of a baby with osteogenesis imperfecta or brittle bone disease. I'm looking forward to reading more of Jodi's books, including Small Great Things.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    House Rules delivers everything Picoult fans have come to expect: controversy, multiple perspectives, a legal conflict, etc. Though formulaic, it does not disappoint. Jacob, the Asperger’s afflicted teenager provides the most intriguing point of view. Extremely bright, but lacking in social and communications skills, he attempts to define the way his mind works and his attempts to relate to people. His mother Emma and his brother Theo have struggled to cope with his disability, but when he is ar House Rules delivers everything Picoult fans have come to expect: controversy, multiple perspectives, a legal conflict, etc. Though formulaic, it does not disappoint. Jacob, the Asperger’s afflicted teenager provides the most intriguing point of view. Extremely bright, but lacking in social and communications skills, he attempts to define the way his mind works and his attempts to relate to people. His mother Emma and his brother Theo have struggled to cope with his disability, but when he is arrested for murder, their whole world comes crashing down. They struggle to convince the legal system that Jacob cannot stand trial like a normal individual. I’m glad that Picoult didn’t over-exhaust the whole “vaccines caused my son to become like this” avenue, but that she detailed obscure but effective treatments. By narrating from Jacob’s perspective, Picoult takes us into a mind that is completely logical, brutally honest, yet thoroughly lacking empathy. Another aspect that was captivating was Jacob’s obsession with forensics. He provides interesting facts and case histories, though it is this fixation and his inability to articulate his motives that ultimately gets him in trouble. The conclusion did not drop a disappointing bombshell like in My Sister’s Keeper or Handle With Care. It was well delivered and somewhat open to speculation and left me contemplative, relishing in the brilliance of Picoult’s writing.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kris Hilliard

    As a mother of a child with autism, I was leery about reading this novel as it's probably every mother's worst nightmare to learn their 'normal' child committed a crime, but for those of us with children who cannot speak for themselves let alone defend their actions it is truly something I fear for him in the future. I know enough of Picoult's writing to know there would be a twist to this story, but really did not expect the way it ended. She clearly did her research learning about Asbergers, P As a mother of a child with autism, I was leery about reading this novel as it's probably every mother's worst nightmare to learn their 'normal' child committed a crime, but for those of us with children who cannot speak for themselves let alone defend their actions it is truly something I fear for him in the future. I know enough of Picoult's writing to know there would be a twist to this story, but really did not expect the way it ended. She clearly did her research learning about Asbergers, PDD-NOS and autism. It brought back a lot of memories and also gave me much insight into what my daughter probably feels 100% of the time. I look at my beautiful son and am slowly learning to appreciate that he is trapped in a mind that can't take it all in - and that he is a brilliant boy who just wants to fit in. I loved Emma and her character and her development. She really spoke from the perspective of a parent with a child who 'has' autism. Think about it - if 1 our of 90 kids are diagnosed as being on the spectrum, those kids will grow into adults who may eventually enter our legal system. That is frightening, but realistic. I really applaud Jodi for doing her research and writing a fantastic novel. I was so fearful of reading it - but oh so glad that I did. ♥ thank you Jodi!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Barb

    House Rules has everything I look for in good fiction. It's a superb, character-driven story that made me laugh, made me cry, and kept me intrigued until the very end. As with other Jodi Picoult novels, the author's extensive research allowed me to learn a great deal about a particular topic, in this case both autism (specifically Asperger's) and forensic science. Many people criticize this book as being highly predictable. I disagree, mainly because I don't view it as a murder mystery. The auth House Rules has everything I look for in good fiction. It's a superb, character-driven story that made me laugh, made me cry, and kept me intrigued until the very end. As with other Jodi Picoult novels, the author's extensive research allowed me to learn a great deal about a particular topic, in this case both autism (specifically Asperger's) and forensic science. Many people criticize this book as being highly predictable. I disagree, mainly because I don't view it as a murder mystery. The author explains the circumstances surrounding Jess' death long before the trial is over so I don't see how the reader is 'predicting' the end. To me, the big question in this book is how does this young man with Asperger's Syndrome navigate his way through a legal system designed for non-autistic people and finally get through to those around him to keep himself out of prison, a fate that would surely destroy anyone with his condition.

  13. 5 out of 5

    K.M.

    This book has so many problems with it that I don’t even know where to begin. I don’t want to be too specific, in case you decide to read it for yourself. The plot is such a mess that I was continually wondering how the author was going to clean it all up at the end. Well, I guess she couldn’t figure it out, because the book just stops! There is no resolution of the main conflict. I have read the book cover to cover, but still I don’t know how the story ends! There is at least one mistake in the This book has so many problems with it that I don’t even know where to begin. I don’t want to be too specific, in case you decide to read it for yourself. The plot is such a mess that I was continually wondering how the author was going to clean it all up at the end. Well, I guess she couldn’t figure it out, because the book just stops! There is no resolution of the main conflict. I have read the book cover to cover, but still I don’t know how the story ends! There is at least one mistake in the book, regarding a detail of how someone was dressed. One of the main characters in the book, Jacob (whose mother Emma keeps calling him “Baby” even though he is 18 years old, which I found to be very annoying), has Asperger’s Syndrome, and has a penchant for “always telling the truth”…but when push comes to shove and it really counts, he only tells parts of the truth, which is then left open to (mistaken) interpretation by people who should know better, for example, his mother and his therapist. In fact, much of my frustration with the story is that I was silently begging Jacob to just tell them what happened, and begging everyone else to just ASK him what happened. Instead, what he does is tell what happened AFTER the major tragic event occurs, when all anyone needed to do was ask what preceded that. Of course, had they asked Jacob that question, there would have been no credible premise for a book, which come to think of it, may have been preferable.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Marialyce

    The topic of Asperger's covered in this book is handled with precision and care. You can't help feeling sorry for the entire family. They really gave up having a normal life for their son and brother. I did like the concept but did not feel the ending justified the many pages or thoughts put into this novel. The writing just seemed to stop and not give the reader much to think about. That being said, it was a very worthwhile read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    3.5* Where was the rest?! I mean I get that we can conclude in general what happened but I wish there had been more to it. There were a few potential outcomes that would have been intriguing to read about. A world of opportunity is a way to put it. I had to flop the pages at the end thinking some were missing. Heck, I was close to shaking the book for more pages to appear. Not a very satisfying ending because it did not feel finished. The themes of Asperger's were covered in this book along with 3.5* Where was the rest?! I mean I get that we can conclude in general what happened but I wish there had been more to it. There were a few potential outcomes that would have been intriguing to read about. A world of opportunity is a way to put it. I had to flop the pages at the end thinking some were missing. Heck, I was close to shaking the book for more pages to appear. Not a very satisfying ending because it did not feel finished. The themes of Asperger's were covered in this book along with forensic science, and they were interesting reading material but this one was a bit predictable and not as enthralling as some of Picoult's other books. I still enjoyed my reading experience though. My quick and simply overall: interesting book but predictable.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I think I need to stop reading Picoult. I picked this up from the "new!" shelf at the library, and thought I'd give it a shot over the holiday weekend, even though I've been taking a break from her writing. As I was telling someone a few weeks ago, Picoult's books are fairly formulaic: mama bear fiercely protects child (who generally has some disability or serious problem) from the world; optional so-called "normal" sibling is angry and neglected but understanding. Estranged/divorced/remote othe I think I need to stop reading Picoult. I picked this up from the "new!" shelf at the library, and thought I'd give it a shot over the holiday weekend, even though I've been taking a break from her writing. As I was telling someone a few weeks ago, Picoult's books are fairly formulaic: mama bear fiercely protects child (who generally has some disability or serious problem) from the world; optional so-called "normal" sibling is angry and neglected but understanding. Estranged/divorced/remote other parent is not involved with situation. Enter crisis that tests child/mother in some way. Enter optional love interest for mother, which muddles things. Finish story with strange and unsatisfying twist that leaves the reader wondering why she invested several hours of time caring about these characters. Why did I think (hope?) that this book would be different? When I read the first one, it was novel. Now that I've read all of them, I know that this is her schtick, and this book fits right in with the rest. I'd love to read Picoult's take on other kinds of situations (non-parenting, friendships, other kinds of relationships) but I'm tired of the mothering books. [I know that there's a book where the father is the main protector of the child (The Tenth Circle), but the rest of the basic description holds true.:]

  17. 5 out of 5

    Best Eggs

    I swore I'd never read another Picoult books - they are so written to template, and the endings tend to be cop-outs. But here I am with the latest one on my bedside table. My excuse is that I have Asperger's and I'm always interested to see how other people overcome the social problems. So far though, the book hasn't hooked me, its reading like a lecture on a kid with low-functioning Asperger's, a Rain-Man obsessive and brilliant character who can just about live in the world. It doesn't read li I swore I'd never read another Picoult books - they are so written to template, and the endings tend to be cop-outs. But here I am with the latest one on my bedside table. My excuse is that I have Asperger's and I'm always interested to see how other people overcome the social problems. So far though, the book hasn't hooked me, its reading like a lecture on a kid with low-functioning Asperger's, a Rain-Man obsessive and brilliant character who can just about live in the world. It doesn't read like the majority of people you work with, but do not lunch with, those of us who can't read you. So what to say about the rest of the book? It was stupid, a lot of basic questions weren't asked which made a bit of a mockery of the story and the ending, just for a change was exactly what you expected. Sadly, it seemed that Picoult ran out of steam and what could have been an enjoyable few pages or even a chapter, was reduced to a single explanation. I bloody hate books with disappointing endings. I want my money back!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Inge

    You will never hear me say that Jodi Picoult is not a gifted writer. The amount of research she puts in very book is obvious every time. Her characters are realistically written – the good characters all have their flaws, the bad characters are profoundly douchey. There is so much detail in her writing that I can’t help but admire her. However, it really depends on the book for me. I’ve praised Picoult books to the moon and back. I’ve DNFed them and ranted about particular characters. I’ve felt You will never hear me say that Jodi Picoult is not a gifted writer. The amount of research she puts in very book is obvious every time. Her characters are realistically written – the good characters all have their flaws, the bad characters are profoundly douchey. There is so much detail in her writing that I can’t help but admire her. However, it really depends on the book for me. I’ve praised Picoult books to the moon and back. I’ve DNFed them and ranted about particular characters. I’ve felt “meh” about them. So it’s always a surprise when I pick up one of her books. House Rules was a very pleasant surprise. I was more than happy to read things from everyone’s point of view – the boy with Asperger’s, the family members who live with him. That was by far the most interesting aspect of the story. While I don’t know an awful lot about the syndrome, it sounded pretty solid to me. At some points, I could really relate to Jacob. At other times, I didn’t understand him at all. And I think that’s the whole point. While the murder mystery didn’t add an awful lot to the story apart from lots of drama, I did enjoy the overall story. I especially race through the final part of her books, when the trials start. That’s when we get answers, that’s when things start twisting and turning. In other words: Picoult books are usually quite slow, because you see things from many characters’s different perspectives. This is done to make you believe one thing at one point, and then have your world turned upside down when something else is revealed. But at the trial, that’s when things get really interesting, even though I predicted the main twist quite early on in the book. Which is why I was really frustrated with the ending. I can hardly believe I sat through 500 pages just to end (view spoiler)[on an open ending. What the hell happened, guys? Did he get acquitted or not? GIVE ME ANSWERS. (hide spoiler)] That and the slow pace is the reason for this book getting four stars instead of five, because that really bugged me. Though overall, it’s a pretty damn solid book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paul E. Morph

    This was my first Jodi Picoult novel and I have to say that it sucked me in from the word go. I found all the characters interesting and likable (for the most part), I found the story really engaging and thought the premise was built off a really good idea. I found it very moving in places. Why only three stars, then? Well, for one, the pacing. It starts really well; for the first third of the book it jogs along at a brisk pace and I didn't get bored once. Then the middle section hit and it slowed This was my first Jodi Picoult novel and I have to say that it sucked me in from the word go. I found all the characters interesting and likable (for the most part), I found the story really engaging and thought the premise was built off a really good idea. I found it very moving in places. Why only three stars, then? Well, for one, the pacing. It starts really well; for the first third of the book it jogs along at a brisk pace and I didn't get bored once. Then the middle section hit and it slowed right down to a crawl... Picoult starts repeating expositionary information that we'd already covered earlier in the book, mainly on the nature of Asperger's, and then repeats it again. I work with several people with Asperger's, so I was already very familiar with it, but even if I hadn't heard of it before I think I'd've got tired of the same info being repeated over and over. That would have knocked it down to a four. It lost another star because of the ending. Again, it's a pacing issue. After many, many, many chapters of build-up... it just ends. To say the book doesn't have a satisfying conclusion would be a serious understatement. There's a big twist (which, to be honest, I saw coming a mile off) and then it just stops. We hardly get any information about the results of said twist and the consequences for certain characters are barely touched upon. It's a shame, because there's so much that's good in this book I feel a bit like I'm drop-kicking a kitten, but the flaws are too big to ignore.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Arah-Lynda

    I have read a great many Picoult books and I must say that so far, this one, is my least favourite of all. In fairness Picoult has clearly researched Asperger's syndrome and goes to great lengths to ensure the reader also understands the symptoms and nuances of this type of autism and the impact it would have on a family, the community and society at large. It is the rest of this story that fell flat for me. I found the plot to be unrealistic and largely predictable. I figured out what happened I have read a great many Picoult books and I must say that so far, this one, is my least favourite of all. In fairness Picoult has clearly researched Asperger's syndrome and goes to great lengths to ensure the reader also understands the symptoms and nuances of this type of autism and the impact it would have on a family, the community and society at large. It is the rest of this story that fell flat for me. I found the plot to be unrealistic and largely predictable. I figured out what happened before I was even a third of the way through the story. Even so I found the ending to be disappointing but perhaps that was because the entire tale was simply too contrived to be believed, which is truly unfortunate, especially since Picoult most often tackles, current, lesser known, sensitive and oft misunderstood, hence controversial issues. Had the story surrounding Jacob's Asperger's been more plausible and the plot more suspense filled, it would surely have served to further elevate the reader's ultimate understanding and acceptance of the subject matter. That said, I did not buy it!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    House Rules is the story of teenager Jacob Hunt, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome. The disease is somewhat like autism, but on the higher end of the spectrum. In fact, Jacob can dish out facts and has a higher IQ then most of the kids his age. However, his increased intellect comes with a price - he cannot relate to human emotion, and cannot understand what it means to love, hate, or even sympathize - even if he tries. All of a sudden Jacob is accused of a terrible murder. The shocking revel House Rules is the story of teenager Jacob Hunt, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome. The disease is somewhat like autism, but on the higher end of the spectrum. In fact, Jacob can dish out facts and has a higher IQ then most of the kids his age. However, his increased intellect comes with a price - he cannot relate to human emotion, and cannot understand what it means to love, hate, or even sympathize - even if he tries. All of a sudden Jacob is accused of a terrible murder. The shocking revelation shakes up the entire town, and the only way they can deal with the trauma is if they convict the person guilty of the crime. Unfortunately, Jacob cannot answer the police's questions as they would like: after all, he does have Asperger's syndrome, so he can't meet their gaze, answer practical questions, or even sit still in bright lights. This only makes Jacob seem more guilty and his family struggles to keep themselves afloat in the desperate situation they find themselves in. I loved this book! I would have finished it faster if I didn't have school to deal with. The story constantly hooked me in and I had trouble putting the book down, even during school (to the great disdain of my teachers). I loved the story and the characters - the characters were each exciting and easy to relate to in their own way. I also love the way Picoult writes. She has this eloquent finesse in her writing that makes it flow so smoothly. The way she intertwined the scandalous murder with Jacob's Asperger's syndrome shows that she can juggle multiple plot lines together. Definitely one to read if you're a fan of Picoult, or even if you just want to try something from her.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mallory

    This was my first attempt to read a Picoult novel, and I can't say that I'm inspired to read any more. When Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom" came out last year, Picoult was incredibly critical of the praise that the book was receiving. She seemed to believe that Franzen was lauded for being a male writing about families, while she was virtually ignored by major book reviews, such as The New York Times, because she was female. Her books were branded as "women's fiction" because she was a woman writin This was my first attempt to read a Picoult novel, and I can't say that I'm inspired to read any more. When Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom" came out last year, Picoult was incredibly critical of the praise that the book was receiving. She seemed to believe that Franzen was lauded for being a male writing about families, while she was virtually ignored by major book reviews, such as The New York Times, because she was female. Her books were branded as "women's fiction" because she was a woman writing about families, while Franzen's novels were considered high literary fiction because he was a man. The point she made was a good one, and probably applies to many other female writers, but it doesn't matter if this book is women's fiction or not; this is just plain bad fiction. Predictable, stilted, and about 300 pages too long, "House Rules" is tiresome, and at times even insulting to the reader. Picoult can be heard screaming through her characters, "See how much autism research I did!" rather than letting the characters speak for her. (Also, much of her autism research is flawed and based on studies that have always been questionable, and have recently been debunked as completely fraudulent.) The story is written from the point of view of 5 different people--The mother, Emma, the autistic son, Jacob, his younger brother, Theo, the lawyer, Oliver, and the police officer, (forgive me, I have forgotten his name.) This would be an interesting way of approaching the material if the voices of these characters were at all varied, but they all sound the same, except the voice of Theo, who can be identified by the terribly forced voice of an adult trying to sound like a teenager. I found myself flipping back to the chapter openers to remind myself of what character's perspective I was reading at the time--never a good sign. What the reader is left with is a boring trudge through a story so obvious that you find yourself skipping pages just to get to the resolution, which is ultimately contrived, predictable, and unsatisfying. I haven't totally written off Picoult yet, and I would be interested to hear how fans of hers reacted to this book, but if this is an accurate representation of the quality of the rest of her work, I'll have to pass.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Love Fool

    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, 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. Did Jacob commit murder? Jodi Picoult knows how to rip your heart out and wanting more. She is such a beautiful writer. And, such a creative writer. She writes about different people and storylines, you can't tell its her because she is a broad writer. I have a niece who is mentally challenged so this book touched me on a personal level. I also like that it was a mystery and a mystery that was a challenge to figure out!

  24. 4 out of 5

    C.G. Drews

    Considering I just a) finally read a book by the famous Jodie Picoult, b) read an adult book when I'm like a 99% YA reader, and c) enjoyed it, and d) it was freakishly huge but I survived...I THINK I GET A SOME SORT OF REWARD. But oh wow oh wow, where do I even start? This was rather incredible. I've had a slew of sucky reads lately, but this totally captivated me. It had the WHODUNNIT vibe. It helped me learn more about Asperger's. And it reminded me that not all adult books are scary, but shhh Considering I just a) finally read a book by the famous Jodie Picoult, b) read an adult book when I'm like a 99% YA reader, and c) enjoyed it, and d) it was freakishly huge but I survived...I THINK I GET A SOME SORT OF REWARD. But oh wow oh wow, where do I even start? This was rather incredible. I've had a slew of sucky reads lately, but this totally captivated me. It had the WHODUNNIT vibe. It helped me learn more about Asperger's. And it reminded me that not all adult books are scary, but shhhhh. Don't let my Peter Pan soul hear that. The thing I liked most about this book were the characters. They were so REAL. They all had flaws and quirks and half the time I couldn't even figure out if I liked them. It's narrated by 5 POVs, and I admit, that isn't my favourite. I like things to be concise. I think all the characters were still quite fleshed out, but the book is freakishly huge. It definitely took the time to make everyone feel real. BUT. It was far too long, in my humble but yet fabulous opinion. So a quickie look at the 5 narrators: + Jacob: He's the 18 year old with Aspergers who gets convicted of murdering his tutor. Did he do it? He looks guilty...he says the wrong stuff...even his family isn't 100% sure. I always found his chapters super interesting, although he did go off on super specific tangents (as Apergers people do) that had nothing to do with the story. I'm a pretty focused reader and I want to get to the POINT. But anyway, it was so interesting because his POV always seemed so logical, and yet, from, say, his mother's POV, he looked so unstable. It goes to show people perceive things so differently, right? + Emma: She's the mother and basically her entire existence is bent to helping Jacob. He's not severely autistic. He functions fine, but has meltdowns when things happen unexpectedly or his routine is jarred -- so she's there to pick up pieces from meltdowns. Like, she's seriously a fantastic person. Her chapters were always interesting. But she ANNOYED me too, because she acted so deluded. (Like Jacob has a thing about recreating crime scenes, it's his hobby, and she totally lets him do this WHILE he's in the middle of a murder investigation. How about no?? How about use your brain, woman??) And she totally neglected her second son. She should NOT have done that. I get that it's hard, and she had a rough gig being a single-parent to an autistic kid...but she was so over-the-top sometimes it made me feel uncomfortable reading it. + Theo: he's the second son, the youngest who has to act like the oldest. Okay, but I found Theo a bit creepy. He has this "Thing" where he goes into other people's houses and just imagines what their lives would be like. IS THAT NOT CREEPY??? He quit that after his brother gets convicted, but oh gosh, that was what disturbed me most, I think. I felt really bad for Theo. But he was also super selfish. (view spoiler)[ Like how he could've helped his brother out but CONFESSING he saw Jess the day she died, but he didn't. He would've let Jacob go to prison??? I get that this was a big part of the plot at the end "don't let anything happen to your brother, he's the only one you've got" and how Theo neglected that, but Jacob held onto it to the point where he thought he was covering up for Theo. Buuuuut...it didn't warm me to Theo at all. (hide spoiler)] + Rich: He's the cop/detective in charge of the case. At the beginning I quite liked him...he's struggling as a single parent and it was easy to empathise with his view point. bUT THEN HE WENT AND WAS A JERK. He was really dismissive of disabilities/disorders. I guess he's a good reminder that there are always people who won't believe someone can be severely different...but. Yes. I didn't like him. + Oliver: He's the lawyer. I liked his chapters almost least, because I felt like Oliver was a liar. He needed the case, so he took it when Emma came crying to him...but in truth? He was a cause of a lot of the problems because he didn't know what he was doing. LIAR, OLIVER, LIAR. I really liked the writing style, too! SURPRISED? I AM SURPRISED. I usually find adult books too wordy, and YES, this one had way too many pages, but I felt they added in a heck of a lot of scenes that didn't have to be there. Whereas the writing was actually (mostly) crisp. When it got to the court case it was just repetition all the time, which was dull, but I suppose that's how court cases work. I also feel like the book was exceptionally well researched. Awesomeness. Ahhh, but for a book about Aspergers...it sure failed on a few levels. Oh, I'm not saying the research was bad! I'm just calling out the ironies! For instance a) Jacob will have a meltdown every time he sees orange. THE BOOK COVER IS FREAKING ORANGE. (?!!) b) It kept changing fonts...gosh, books need to be all in one font. c) The ending is NOT black and white. I totally enjoyed this one! I was on the edge of my seat (okay, I totally was lounging in my bed, but whatever, FIGURATIVELY) and though I solved the case, maybe, halfway through the book...I still wasn't sure and needed the answers. Also there's heaps of facts about crime scene investigation here, which is awesome (um...ahem) particularly if you like books like The Killer Book of Cold Cases: Incredible Stories, Facts, and Trivia from the Most Baffling True Crime Cases of All Time and The Killer Book of True Crime: Incredible Stories, Facts and Trivia from the World of Murder and Mayhem...which I, um, happen to like. So all the facts and details were so interesting. I'd definitely read more of Jodie Picoult's books! After a small nap and possibly an excursion back into YA and it's small concise books because...reasons. Also for fans of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time. PS.Not all the covers are orange I just realised! But the edition I read was, and it's more the spine and back is orange, which you can't even see, but whatever.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

    I don't usually like to admit this but I can almost NEVER solve the mystery or crime in a book before the end. This time it was ridiculously easy which actually really disappointed me. I was drawn to the book because I was previously a special education teacher who is now a guidance counselor. I did find the social issue of diagnosis and treatment of a person with Asperger's interesting. It is important to shed more light on this topic. Picoult is a popular author. If a greater awareness of Aspe I don't usually like to admit this but I can almost NEVER solve the mystery or crime in a book before the end. This time it was ridiculously easy which actually really disappointed me. I was drawn to the book because I was previously a special education teacher who is now a guidance counselor. I did find the social issue of diagnosis and treatment of a person with Asperger's interesting. It is important to shed more light on this topic. Picoult is a popular author. If a greater awareness of Asperger's and individuals on the PDD spectrum is bolstered by this book, I think that would be great. A recurring theme in Jodi's novels that bothers me is always the other sibling being completely left out and ignored because of the "higher maintanence" sibling's issues. Is it really hard to imagine a parent finding time to parent both children? Or find a way to nuture both of their needs? It leads me to believe Jodi was the forgotten child in her family. (Of course I don't even know if she has siblings or not!) At any rate, her stories have gotten to be ridiculously formulaic as can be the case with many best selling authors. (Dan Brown is another that comes to mind.) And while I did think that the entire story could have been over in 75 pages if someone had just asked Jacob to tell them what happened when he got to Jess's house, I also found myself eagerly turning the pages to get to the conclusion. Unfortunately it was very rushed. An epilogue more detailed that Jacob's last "Case Study" might have helped. So much lead-up to a giant fizzle at the end.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mallory

    Add Autism and Asperger's to the list of things that Jodi Picoult knows nothing about, yet pretends to after doing a modicum of research. In House Rules, Picoult takes every tic, symptom, quirk, obsession and social awkwardness of Autism and rolls them into one character. But, since many people with Autism have a hard time communicating, despite the traits she gave her main character, she had to give him Asperger's, which is a high-functioning form of Autism, so that she could set him up as a fir Add Autism and Asperger's to the list of things that Jodi Picoult knows nothing about, yet pretends to after doing a modicum of research. In House Rules, Picoult takes every tic, symptom, quirk, obsession and social awkwardness of Autism and rolls them into one character. But, since many people with Autism have a hard time communicating, despite the traits she gave her main character, she had to give him Asperger's, which is a high-functioning form of Autism, so that she could set him up as a first-person narrator. What we get is a severely Autistic young man in an Asperger's costume. It's like everything that could be evident in someone with Autism had to make the cut - this woman has no edit feature. Add to this a terribly predictable ending (except no one drops dead for no apparent reason, which is a big step up from Handle With Care), typical changed POV first person narration, a sibling who feels ignored/neglected because of their sibling's special needs and parents who obsess over their children while, really, not being very good parents. What you get is typical Picoult crap... but this time around, it's not only not even mildly interesting or engaging, but it's not even terribly accurate.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cass

    I have to confess to being a closet Jodi Picoult fan. I am as much surprised as you! She caught me unawares one night after downloading a sample chapter on my iPhone. I blame the time of the night, I blame my daughter for not sleeping, I blame the Picoult for being able to convert me with a single chapter. Picoult writes books that do indeed draw the reader in right from chapter one. House Rules is the second book of hers that I have read and both books kept me up all night reading them. House Ru I have to confess to being a closet Jodi Picoult fan. I am as much surprised as you! She caught me unawares one night after downloading a sample chapter on my iPhone. I blame the time of the night, I blame my daughter for not sleeping, I blame the Picoult for being able to convert me with a single chapter. Picoult writes books that do indeed draw the reader in right from chapter one. House Rules is the second book of hers that I have read and both books kept me up all night reading them. House Rules tells the story of an Autistic boy (actually Aspergers Syndrome) fascinated with crime scenes. It tells the story of police brutality due to refusal to allow for needs due to this disorder. It tells the story of a family torn apart by a young man who cannot help but behave the way he does. If I have one complaint about her writing it is the way she finishes her books. They never wrap up the parts of the story that she has taught you to care about. I don't mean that the book is written in such a way as to leave the reader wondering what possibilities might occur, I am talking about secondary characters and secondary storylines that just need better conclusions. For example, Picoult lets us grow close and feel the pain and injustice of the younger brother in this book. We hurt for him, we understand how unfair it is, we want to know how it ends for him. I wonder if Picoult thought her conclusion was enough to heal a lifetime of injustices, but I don't think it was, I wanted more understanding and more repentance. On a more political note, and commenting as an open minded parent. I found the explanation of the possibility of link between autism and vaccinations. The mother explained both sides of the debate and made the simple comment that is often overlooked, that while science may support one belief, anecdotal evidence can be enough to make a mother wonder. In this book the mother supported delayed vaccination (the vaccination of children on a slightly prolonged schedule to allow the child to be slightly older when receiving certain vaccinations) but also believed in the possibility of link between autism and vaccinations (due to a Mercury based compound used in vaccinations over a decade ago). I found it a very balanced argument.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I'm going to say, up front, this book is intense, and made me feel every emotion a person can feel. The lives of those in the Hunt family have never been easy. Jacob's Asperger's Syndrome makes it impossible for him to connect well to others and, sometimes, his tantrums can become violent. He has special accomodations at home, and at school, but those things don't help him when he is accused of murdering his Social Skills tutor, Jess Ogilvy. From there, everything becomes increasingly harder, an I'm going to say, up front, this book is intense, and made me feel every emotion a person can feel. The lives of those in the Hunt family have never been easy. Jacob's Asperger's Syndrome makes it impossible for him to connect well to others and, sometimes, his tantrums can become violent. He has special accomodations at home, and at school, but those things don't help him when he is accused of murdering his Social Skills tutor, Jess Ogilvy. From there, everything becomes increasingly harder, and breathtaking for the reader up until the last page. It's sad, and at some times, hard to read, but it also gave me hope for a reason that I cannot write for fear of revealing spoilers, which I dislike doing. Aside from the storyline about the murder, Jacob's mother also has her own side-story, and his brother, Theo's point of view is also shown throughout. the different outlooks are refreshing and the voices are extremely distinctive. One thing I don't like in some books, are how the voices sometimes all sound the same. You won't find that here. Jacob, Theo's, and Emma's voices are all different and unique. I love this book and I would definitely read it again, but if there was one thing I could change, it would be how things ended. But I won't tell you that. (:

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nic

    I grabbed this book on a whim at the book store because I have some experience with people with Asperger's and the premise sounded interesting. When I got home and actually looked up other Jodi Picoult books, though, I started to get nervous. specifically looking at the reviews for My Sister's Keeper were very controversial. But when I started the book I actually had high hopes for it. The prose is very simple and easy to read (which isn't a sin in my opinion but can actually be a good thing) an I grabbed this book on a whim at the book store because I have some experience with people with Asperger's and the premise sounded interesting. When I got home and actually looked up other Jodi Picoult books, though, I started to get nervous. specifically looking at the reviews for My Sister's Keeper were very controversial. But when I started the book I actually had high hopes for it. The prose is very simple and easy to read (which isn't a sin in my opinion but can actually be a good thing) and I felt engaged with what was going on. I was having a pretty pleasant experience about halfway through the novel despite the fact that the tone was sort of dramatic and reminded me of a Hollywood movie or even worse a Lifetime movie. But the dissection of family dynamics with a kid who has special needs was a draw for me because I have personal experience with the issue. Believe it or not living with a sibling who has such severe problems really can be that dramatic and feel that oppressive. It's often complicated, unfair to everyone involved, and produces ugly feelings we don't like to admit we sometimes have. Picoult did portray these feelings in a way that resonated with me. So to a point the Autistic explanations and anecdotes are interesting. But they get very very repetitive by the end. The book as a whole was far too long. 350 pages could have done the job, I'm sure. And trial was extremely repetitive of all the information that was already presented in many ways about Asperger's. The issue is a dead horse by the end. Also, the focus of the trial just turned into this huge debate on whether or not having Asperger's could lead to someone impulsively committing murder. Which is just not only completely not what should be focused on (like Hello, maybe what actually happened?), but also a stupid, insulting, and contradictory argument to begin with. One of the things that bugged me the most was no one even bothers to ask Jacob, the boy on trial, what actually happened and why he did the things he did that made him look so guilty. They all just go back in forth in their heads about whether or not he's guilty every time he does/says soemthing suspicious. Why would you not ask a kid who, by the nature of his condition hates lying, to just tell you what freaking happened? And there were other details that just didn't add up. (view spoiler)[In the end, it is stated that Jacob did not realize he could be suspected for the murder but WHY then did he use his homemade blanket to cover her up? This seems like a really obvious mistake for a kid who is supposedly a genius at crime scene investigation. (hide spoiler)] I'm not going to lie. I will probably read some other Jodi Picoult books at some point if not soon even though I ultimately found this pretty disappointing. I've read other reviews that indicate the problems I had with this book occur frequently in her writing but it's very easy to digest and sometimes I just want something easy to read even if it's not particularly good. Though I guess I shouldn't judge her based on one book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    This is a book that I had reserved at the library. When it came in I felt an odd compulsion to read and finish even though I found it quite tedious. I used to enjoy Picoult's novels; I admit it! I thought the early books were well written with engaging stories and well developed characters. That is definitely not the case with her last few books. I think this will be the last one of hers I read for a long time (she's cranking them out at the rate of one/year. That in itself is very telling!) This This is a book that I had reserved at the library. When it came in I felt an odd compulsion to read and finish even though I found it quite tedious. I used to enjoy Picoult's novels; I admit it! I thought the early books were well written with engaging stories and well developed characters. That is definitely not the case with her last few books. I think this will be the last one of hers I read for a long time (she's cranking them out at the rate of one/year. That in itself is very telling!) This book was so similar to the last few of Picoult's in so many ways. The whole time I was reading, I kept thinking that it is like the author has a template and just plugs in new names, diseases/syndromes, outcomes. Her characters inevitably fit in the same mold. There is: *The beleaguered, overworked mother who is the main (and best, in her own eyes) caregiver of the... *child with a disease or syndrome or *something* that sets him/her apart from the rest of the family and requires an inordinate amount of time and attention, which leaves the... *second, ignored child who acts out in inappropriate ways because he/she is starving for attention from mom/parents that are focused on child number one. Sigh. It all becomes very trite and boring and predictable.

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