Cindy Vine's Reviews > House Rules

House Rules by Jodi Picoult
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's review
May 19, 2011

really liked it
I own a copy

House Rules is definitely much better than Picoult's last two novels which both seemed to miss the boat somehow. I suppose I am a little biased with regards to the issue she tackled, as I used to teach in a satellite unit for children with autism and encountered some 'Jacob Hunts.'
Picoult obviously researched autism and Aspergers quite thoroughly and was keen to share that knowledge and educate the reader about these disorders. However, I do feel that for a reader who might want to read the book purely for entertainment value, the endless descriptions of 'typical' Aspergers behaviour might be just a little too much. For someone who once worked with these children it was okay, though at times a little repetitive.
The plot was quite gripping, an eighteen year old Aspergers boy accused of murder. It did run out of steam a little at the end, as everything was wrapped up quite quickly and not necessarily satisfactory. Like, would there really be no consequences for the crimes committed, as there were crimes committed by both brothers.
Other readers complain of the predictability. So, it was predictable, but what Jodi Picoult did an excellent job of portraying, is how something like Aspergers can have enormous detrimental effects to family life. She showed how each person in that family suffered because of it, and you felt yourself feeling what they felt. That is good writing and you can't predict that.
I believe that for Jodi the plot is not the major part of her book, and she uses a formula which is what makes it predictable as that is not her main focus. Her aim is to make the reader think, identify with some of the emotions the characters feel and develop empathy towards them. Her books are about the characters, not the plot. The plot is just the canvas she uses to paint her characters on.
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