Rebecca's Reviews > Rules

Rules by Cynthia Lord
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's review
Aug 23, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: family, realistic-fiction, kids-books
Read on August 23, 2011

I've been trying to think of the best way to talk about this book. I read it in a night and then forced it upon my mother -who hardly ever makes the time to read- and she finished it in a night. Someday, when my sister is ready, I will have her read it too. This book was so sweet, and at moments, heart-wrenching. It's a simple story about a young girl who wants to be known for herself - not David's sister. Her eight-year-old brother has autism and because of his special needs, often takes the attention of their parents.

Catherine is in a tricky place. She loves her brother, so much that she regularly adds to a list of 'rules' for him - things that the average person instinctively knows or learns very quickly - but David needs to be taught. Some of the rules are hilarious, "If it fits in your mouth, it's food." Some are heartbreaking, "Sometimes people laugh when they like you. Sometimes they laugh to hurt you." Yet, as much as she cares for David, he complicates her life. Her parents thrust babysitting duties on her constantly, her father rarely spends time with her alone - but he will with David, her brother is constantly embarrassing her in front of friends and neighbors. To further complicate things, they have a new next door neighbor who's Catherine's age and she does everything she can to hide David's behavior so that her new friend won't find out. Catherine also starts up a friendship with a boy at David's therapy clinic who can only communicate by pointing at the pictures in his phrasebook.

It's a good story, but it really was the moments between Catherine and David that struck me so much. My seven-year-old nephew is autistic and there were so many moments that felt all too familiar. Not all unpleasant, but familiar. One of Catherine's rules is "If you don't have the words you need - borrow someone else's." David takes this to heart and is perpetually quoting Arnold Lobel's "Frog and Toad" book to express how he feels, and Catherine will respond back with the next line. At one point, Catherine is so angry at something David does, that she refuses to respond to his usual line, "I'm sorry, Frog." The panic that David goes through when the usual routine is messed up broke my heart. It is such a fragile, sweet relationship and watching Catherine figure out who she is and, more importantly, who she wants to be is such a nice journey.

I recommend this to anyone whose lives have been touched by autism or who would like to see how families deal with the day to day routines with an autistic child. A beautiful story.

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03/09/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Maddy I love what you said! I have read it plenty of times to know that you hit the nail right on the head! Maddy out!

Emily I, reading this for a book club.

Emily Hi

Elizabeth A Hill OMG one of my favorite book ever!!!!!!!!!!

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