Barbara's Reviews > Rules

Rules by Cynthia Lord
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Mar 12, 12

bookshelves: bullies, newbery, self-esteem
Read in March, 2012

Twelve-year-old Catherine loves her brother David, but she also finds his behavior embarrassing at times. Because he has autism and doesn't always understand rules that others follow--for instance, keeping his pants on or keeping toys out of the fishtank or even the concept of waiting--Catherine has developed a list of rules to help David navigate society. As the book moves to its conclusion, it's clear that while the rules may be helpful for David, they are just as much rules for Catherine as they are for her brother. Perhaps because she is so protective of her brother especially around her schoolmate Ryan, who seems determined to tease him, and perhaps because she hates always being seen as different because of David, Catherine longs for some time to herself and the chance to make new friends. At times, it seems that her parents rely on her help too much and expect her to be responsible for David. When she begins a friendship with Jason, a boy she meets when her brother is having therapy, she draws word cards with expressive artwork to help him say what he is feeling, something that Catherine herself is not very good at doing. Eventually, Catherine realizes that she has not been honest about David or Jason, and some of her rules are limiting her more than they are helping her. This honest book shows the many sides to living in a family in which one member faces particularly difficult challenges. Throughout the book's pages, though, it is clear that Catherine loves her brother.
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