Review: House Rules

House Rules is about Jacob Hunt, 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 one day his tutor is found dead, and the police come to question him. All of the hallmark behaviors of Asperger’s – not looking someone in the eye, stimulatory tics and twitches, inappropriate affect – can look a heck of a lot like guilt to law enforcement personnel — and suddenly, Jacob finds himself accused of murder. 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 – but lousy for those who don’t. –From Goodreads

I have read all of Jodi Picoult’s books, and look forward to the release of a new one each year. Picoult is a thorough researcher who is not afraid to attack the most controversial topics, from teen pregnancy and suicide to school shootings. She is best known for My Sister’s Keeper, which was adapted into a major motion picture. Picoult’s trademark is her alternating narration between each of the main protagonists, allowing readers to see her stories from multiple points of view, and get into the heads of characters they might not identify with if only given an outsider’s perspective.

Her most recent work, House Rules, examines how a child with Asperger’s Syndrome is perceived within his family and community, and within the justice system. As always, her research was well integrated, keeping the plot moving along instead of feeling like a nonfiction intermission, and her characters were enjoyable. Picoult is a master of the metaphor, bringing the most abstract emotions into concrete, descriptive terms, which flood her books with quotable moments.

The only complaint I ever have about Picoult’s works is that once you have read a few of her books, it doesn’t take long to predict where the story is going. Picoult’s writing is formulaic, and she has certainly found a formula that works for her, but I keep hoping that one of these days she will deviate a bit from the predictable and make her “surprise endings” actually feel like a surprise again.


One Response to "Review: House Rules"

  • Her writing is wonderful, her research thorough. You read her work and get to not only know the characters, but feel them as well. Although I knew the ending early enough in this book I still felt completely satisfied and look forward to my birthday next year when hopefully she will have another new release.

    1 Judy said this (April 11, 2010 at 11:19 PM)