dreamingbear (dreamingbear) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Book #21: House Rules

Title:House Rules*
Written by:Jodi Piccoult
Narrated by:Mark Turetsky , Nicole Poole , Andy Paris , Christopher Evan Welch , Rich Orlow
Genre:Mystery, Crime Drama, MIARC

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.

Ok, first, I have no idea how to write up this book without possibly giving anything away... If you're a savvy crime reader, you may pick up clues even though I'm trying to be vague... This is your potential SPOILER alert. Also, yes, technically for this to be on the Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge, it's not supposed to vilify the person with the mental illness. Well, this does... to some extent... by many characters... However, the other side of the coin does such a good job explaining Aspberger's — the quirks, difference in thinking patterns, the physical tics and their reasons — that you get a wonderful understanding of the syndrome and potentially how someone with the illness may think or why they might do something. And honestly... at least in regards to the main crux of the story, the kid did kind of do it to himself...

As is typical of Piccoult's work, her characters are amazingly real – wonderful, caring, flawed, sometimes damaged, and utterly typical people. The story was painstakingly sculpted and, in the audiobook version, the narrators all performed beautifully, giving each character his or her own feel and vibrancy. It was also quite intriguing and amusing to see how each character saw the others, especially when the characters who'd just recently met Jacob characterize him.

Of course, the whole story could have been derailed if anyone had asked Jacob one simple question, so for well over 6 hours I've been railing at the characters in the book to just asking that one fucking simple question already! For crying out loud! BLEARGH!!!

Although, I can't remember when I cared enough about a story to rail at its characters for being all too imperfectly human ;-)

21 / 75 books. 28% done!

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