Jodi Picoult Books Reading Group. discussion

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message 1: by Donna (new)

Donna | 4 comments I just finished House Rules last night. What a read. It was a well researched and insightful view of Asperger Syndrome. Multiple layers with the plot and hard to put down. Anyone else???

message 2: by Dara (new)

Dara | 145 comments Ohhh...I am off to finish up Shutter Island so I can start reading this tonight!

message 3: by Grace (new)

Grace (graycie) I am almost done with this book and I think I have a very good idea about what really happened to Jess. I've paid attention to the clues for once and I can't wait to find out if I am right. I like it alot so far.

message 4: by Erin (new)

Erin  Black (eblack) I can't wait to ready this book!!!!! I have it on hold at the library and I am number 200 out of's taking soooo long!!

message 5: by Dara (new)

Dara | 145 comments I finished House Rules last night. Very, very good book but I too predicted the ending. I have been trying to decide if it was predictable or if I was just looking for it because I know that JP always has some twist or surprise at the end?

message 6: by Taylor (new)

Taylor (taylork) | 4 comments I finished House Rules about a week ago and was, once again, so impressed with Picoult's impeccable research- she wrote with such knowledge on the topics of both forensic science and Asperger's.

One of my favorite parts of the novel were the summaries of various murder cases- so interesting!

message 7: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (sweetpea) | 7 comments ***Spoiler ALERT****
So my question to all this was who did it?? In the very last sentance it was said they would do it all again. So are we to presume that Jess was in fact killed and the whole thing was Staged?? OR was it an accident and then went from there? Anyone else have any thoughts on this??

message 8: by Glenda (new)

Glenda | 12 comments I think it was an accident.

message 9: by Grace (last edited Mar 22, 2010 01:14PM) (new)

Grace (graycie) ***Spoiler Alert***
I believe what was meant by "I would do it all over again" was that he even after everything that he went through, he would cover up for his brother again.

message 10: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (sweetpea) | 7 comments **Spoiler Alert**
I see what you mean by that Grace. I am going to reread that last part again. Because when I read it the first time I thought it wasn't being spoken from any specific character, like she normally does. Just was written in general form. (Does that make sense??)

message 11: by Grace (new)

Grace (graycie) Heidi, yes, I remember how she did that with the journal at the beginning of every chapter in Nineteen Minutes. Sometimes I thought it was Peter and other times I thought it was Josie.

message 12: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (sweetpea) | 7 comments Yeah. I had that same confusion in 19 minutes. BUT I eventually just kind of thought it may be whomever. SO hmm. I wonder.... Something to ponder.

message 13: by Dara (new)

Dara | 145 comments I thought it was an accident. Jacob realized that Theo had been there and so he did what he did to cover for his brother because that was a rule "take care of your brother he's the only one you've got". And therefore Jacob just kept his secret and no one else, even Theo realized what had happened.

message 14: by Jamie (new)

Jamie | 9 comments ***Spoiler Alert***

Dara wrote: "I thought it was an accident. Jacob realized that Theo had been there and so he did what he did to cover for his brother because that was a rule "take care of your brother he's the only one you've..."

I agree. I also thought that it was an accident. I think she fell down because she was startled and Jacob just covered it up and I think that he meant he would cover up for his brother again.

message 15: by Grace (new)

Grace (graycie) Yes, I do believe her death was an accident. But at first, Jacob thought that Theo killed her. I think that besides the house rule, Jacob covered up for Theo because he wanted to be the big brother for once.

message 16: by Anna (new)

Anna | 81 comments SPOILER ALERT

I agree that it was an accident, but did you think Theo believed that she was dead and just felt like he was off the hook due to the moving of her body? To me Theo's life got better due to the death--he was removed from school that he detested and he developed a relationship with his dad. I am not saying that he planned the death, but actually the death brought positive changes for him and actually his mom too with her new relationship.

message 17: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (sweetpea) | 7 comments Anna-- I do think Theo's life got better because of the whole thing. I also think he did think he was off the hook. This book really did put an interesting dynamic on the relationship/view of Theo. Which I know she doesn't sometimes do so well. I almost came to think of Theo as the 2nd main character.

Amy - I do agree that the more an author writes the better they become. I have not read Jodi's first book. Part of me doesn't want to because I know she is capable of writing so well. BUT part of me does want too. I like how you had a goal to have all her books read. I think I will make that my goal this year. To read all the rest of her books by the end of the year. I have already read half. I look forward to hearing what you think of the book. Check back when you finish and let us know. :-)

message 18: by Anna (new)

Anna | 81 comments I also didn't like Mark, but I think Jess was attracted to him as either she thought she could change him or felt that she should be honored to have him as a boyfriend. I got the feeling that she lacked confidence and was afraid of being alone.

message 19: by Grace (new)

Grace (graycie) ***SPOILER ALERT****
Mark & Jess are very similar to Matt & Josie from Nineteen Minutes. Mark/Matt, the cool popular boyfriend who is physically abusive and controlling. Mark makes fun of Jacob who is Jess's friend. Matt bullies Peter who is Josie's friend.
Jess/Josie, the insecure girl whose self esteem depends on being with respective boyfriends. Jess used to be fat and being with Mark made her feel beautiful and desired. For Josie being with Matt was more about being accepted by the popular circle.

message 20: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (sweetpea) | 7 comments Grace -- It has been a while since I read Nineteen Minutes but now that you brought that up it is a VERY similar relationship. Interesting. Thanks for reminding me.

message 21: by Amy (new)

Amy (amy_101) Haven't read this book, but I can't wait to!!! Looking forward to see what Jodi Picoult brings on in this book.

message 22: by Anna (new)

Anna | 81 comments SPOILER ALERT

I think the ending was written so you could decide the outcome. Personally I would imagine both got off on probation due to not reporting a crime and tampering with a body. The family dynamics were interesting--the relationship between Henry and Emma wasn't fully outlined, but it seemed that Henry couldn't handle Emma's need for total control of Jacob's care and situation. I don't think he initially planned to abandon his sons, but since he moved across the country and Emma didn't protest the move it happened. I was actually glad he was back in the boys' lives.

I liked the comparison of Jess/Mark to Matt/Josie (in Nineteen Minutes). In both situations the females was beginning to realize the attention from the Alpha male wasn't worth it and was starting to take baby steps away from the relationship, but tragedy intervened before the break occurred in a normal way.

I don't have very much experience with Asperger's--my daughter has a classmate who is dual exceptional (Aspergers and and gifted). He has experienced quite a bit of bullying (he got a social transfer to her school to be removed from the bullies). Fortunately, he has a wonderful para and has a couple classes with less than 10 kids so he can express himself. He has given the kids insight of how the bullying happened and his reaction.

message 23: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany Bannister | 7 comments Great book, I finished it on Friday. I hope Jodi is working on her next book! Each one keeps getting better and better.

message 24: by Marti (last edited Apr 26, 2010 05:47AM) (new)

Marti (marjay) | 8 comments SPOILER ALERT

I stayed up late to finish the book last night. Although I had figured out the ending, I still stayed up reading! I missed the Jess/ Josie parallel with the abusive boyfriend. I didn't see Theo not coming out with his knowledge as hiding a murder. I saw instead Theo got caught peaking and didn't connect it to the death of Jess. He saw her look at him and saw he slip. Lots of people slip but don't die and I think Theo never dared to go beyond that thought. Especially when all the evidence pointed to Jacob when he cleaned up and rearranged the crime scene. I was impressed the father came back to try to be there for the boys. I am glad Emma found someone. I am still tweaked about how no one just flat out asked Jacob about what happened - he would have told the truth and I think wanted to tell the truth to people.

To me - this book had a load of parallels between the Theo and Amelia (Handle with Care) and highlights the difficulty of being a sibling with a child with significant disabilities. Not just the expectation that you always take second place. That your sibling needs more time, money etc. BUT that both of them developed a concerning habit (cutting and house visiting) that to me showed the negative side about being the invisible child. And the unwritten rule or thought that this burden would fall on them when the parents could no longer sustain it.

message 25: by Anna (new)

Anna | 81 comments SPOILER ALERT

Jacob wanting to explain is a good point--was it that everyone assumed he was guilty?

I didn't think about the Theo and Amelia comparison--similar to the brother in My Sister's Keeper.

message 26: by Becky (new)

Becky I don't think his mother wanted to ask him because she knew he would tell her the truth and she didn't really want to hear it and erase any doubt she was hanging onto.
I don't think the lawyer asked because it wouldn't have been so easy to defend him if he did it. I think he mentioned something about why in the book, but I can't remember where.

message 27: by Becky (new)

Becky You're right and I'm not saying that what she did was right, but I can kind of see what she thought. I think she was in preservation mode. She knew if she asked him for, or let him tell the truth, there was no going back. That it was easier to defend him with some doubt of his guilt. Also, if he did tell the truth and it was that he killed her, that the judge, jury, and others would only see that and not the context of his autism. I think it's hard to know what you would do or not do when you are trying to save your child from life in prison. I think the idea of "life lessons" might go out the window.

message 28: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany Bannister | 7 comments I agree, Oliver seemed like a poor choice. She was possibly losing her family and she shacking up with the lawyer. Went against her character to be about herself.

message 29: by Crystal (new)

Crystal | 4 comments Donna wrote: "I just finished House Rules last night. What a read. It was a well researched and insightful view of Asperger Syndrome. Multiple layers with the plot and hard to put down. Anyone else???"
I just finished House Rules and was disappointed by the ending! This is the second Jodi P. book that I really hated the ending! Handle With Care also disliked how it ended.

message 30: by Anna (new)

Anna | 81 comments SPOILER ALERT

Her relationship with Oliver didn't bother me too much as it made her seem human (similar to Josie's mom in Nineteen Minutes). In both the moms were very independent woman and developed relationships with unlikely men during a crisis situation.

Crystal--I also didn't like the ending of Handle With Care at the time I read it. In retrospect it did remind me of "real" life. You always have an answer for Plan A, but it is Plan B that totally rocks your world. In the past year I have known two acquaintances that have died (both men in their 40s) in accidents--one mowing and the other sledding. After those untimely deaths I could better understand Jodi's point of not being prepared for the unexpected.

message 31: by Crystal (new)

Crystal | 4 comments Anna wrote: "SPOILER ALERT

Her relationship with Oliver didn't bother me too much as it made her seem human (similar to Josie's mom in Nineteen Minutes). In both the moms were very independent woman and develo..."
Thanks for your comments! I am really sorry about the two people that you know that died! I also had a really good friend that died after a routine operation this past fall and it really affected me. Thanks again for your perspective!

message 32: by Anna (new)

Anna | 81 comments Crystal-I am sorry about the loss of your friend--it is so hard to lose someone without the chance to say goodbye.

Reflecting on most of Jodi P books since they all typically involve an untimely death I wonder if she has experienced loss in her life (or maybe a death early in her life). She has a way of capturing the feelings of grief/guilt of the family, friends, etc.

message 33: by Bob (last edited May 24, 2010 02:47PM) (new)

Bob Roberts | 1 comments ***Spoiler Alert***

I need to throw a wrench into the way most of you seem to be reading the ending, especially the "I would do it all again." First of all, consider whose voice these "inter-chapter" case summaries are written in. They include sarcasm, humor, figures of speech. These are things that Jacob couldn't master as a person with AS. If fact, they seem very similar in tone to the Auntie Em columns. So, did Emma write them? Why? What did she mean by "I would do it all again?" Why are the case summaries about sociopaths? Who exhibits real sociopathic tendencies in the book? (and I am not talking about Jacob's AS).

message 34: by Caitlin (new)

Caitlin Hillen | 1 comments Amy wrote: "Let me just go ahead and say SPOILER ALERT, so don't read any further if you haven't read the book....

I just finished the book a few minutes ago, and BOY did the ending make me mad. I mean ..."

I also just finished the book a few minutes ago and posted a review about how angry I feel about the ending. Legally you would guess that they may be able to take this new evidence into account (although, as you said, there's no REAL evidence, but Theo's testimony). There are too many unanswered questions. I felt that it wasn't a typical Jodi Picoult twist, but laziness not to give us a real ending. Ugh. I love the book and now I just feel disappointed.

message 35: by Ashley (new)

Ashley  (angelashly) | 20 comments Amy- While I didnt mind the ending I would have liked to know, but my first thought was that she was going to be bringing someone back in a future book.

message 36: by Stacy (new)

Stacy | 27 comments Amy wrote: "***SPOILER ALERT***

Also, I meant to add, I understand that Jacob liked having the chance to be the "big" brother, and take care of Theo. But if Theo knew all this information, and kept it s..."

Amy- I agree with every statement that you've made about the book. I felt the same way about all the characters. I really disliked Henry's character. Why bother showing up now when you've been absent from your sons lives? I didn't understand why he had to come back. I also think that Jess was being selfish. When she became involved with Mark, it became apparent that he became her priority and not the children that she was paid to be helping such as Jacob. The book did frustrate me at times but i do hope that Picoult decides to write a sequel from Theo's point of view. I would like to know what happened after the case was finished, and what outcome it had to change their lives.

message 37: by [deleted user] (new)

Just posted my review... I screamed at the end.

message 38: by Miranda (new)

Miranda I just finished reading it about an hour ago. Y'all can read my review, but I'm going to repeat the basics here.

I really liked the book. It fascinated me!It was probably one of my favorites of Jodi's. brother has Asperger's. And it made me a little mad that she (Picoult) seems to have done as much research as possible on the subject of AS, but skipped over actually meeting someone who has it. She basically took every single "quirk" that an Aspie can have, took the worst case scenario of each one, and stuffed it all into Jacob. The average young adult with Asperger's looks nothing like him, and it gives everyone with no former knowledge of it a very narrow understanding of Aspergers, which I just don't like.

message 39: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Stokes I recently read House Rules as well. Although I felt that Jacob seemed to have all of the extreme symptoms and characteristics of Aspergers, it didn't bother me that much. I am a special education teacher and to be honest there is no student who is alike to another. Everyone has their own personality and I've never found two students with Aspergers to be alike at all. Each one has their own special things about them. I thought the book was very good!

message 40: by Miranda (new)

Miranda Well...maybe I'm just a little over-protective. Haha. Thanks to both you and Amy for helping me see things differently. =)

message 41: by Betsy (new)

Betsy (mistymtladi) | 36 comments Amy wrote: "I finally started House Rules last night, my last JP book to read, and I will have covered them all. Woo Hoo, since that was a goal of mine this year. So far I love it, and though I have glanced at..."

Songs of The Humpbacked Whale was my least favorite of JP's. I assumed it was one of her first novels and she hadn't fiqured out what worked yet.

message 42: by Tracy (new)

Tracy This was one of the best novels that I have read in a long time!

message 43: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 1 comments i am very upset by the ending of the book. i feel like there was way too much unsaid. the whole book jodi builds up emmas life and about how stressful and alone she is, yet we never see how things pan out with oliver, and how did things end with henry?
also not to mention i can't believe how she ended things with the trial. the entire book led up to that exact next trial scene and she just ended the book instead. so did jess die because she slipped? how were her injuries so brutal then?

message 44: by Aura (new)

Aura (aurasja) | 1 comments To me the book was so, so. It wasn't Picoult's best nor was it her worst. The ending to me was just... blah. I wasn't wowed or angered because of it.

Am I the only one who hated the Emma/Oliver relationship??? I found it inappropriate and to me the feelings between both of them were rushed. I thought Emma would have something with Rich, since he was interested in her from the first time he saw her. Since he wasn't really directly involved in her life or in any of the other character's lives I thought his POV was unnecessary. The police and the crime things could have been handled in a different way. I don't know, that's my opinion.

message 45: by Alexa (last edited Jan 27, 2012 01:40PM) (new)

Alexa (paraderain) | 1 comments I loved this book. I read it about a year ago and recently saw a TV show called "Parenthood" and there is a boy with Asperger's on the show. I felt like I had a whole understanding of how he lives his life because of the understanding that Picoult gives you in this book of what it would be like to try to live in the normal world with a not so normal view of the world. I just picked the book off my shelf to re-read.

message 46: by Fariza (new)

Fariza | 8 comments Sarah wrote: "i am very upset by the ending of the book. i feel like there was way too much unsaid. the whole book jodi builds up emmas life and about how stressful and alone she is, yet we never see how things ..."

Yeah I have the same thought about the ending. Too much unsaid, it really annoyed me! haha but this book still worth to read!

message 47: by Fariza (new)

Fariza | 8 comments Alexa wrote: "I loved this book. I read it about a year ago and recently saw a TV show called "Parenthood" and there is a boy with Asperger's on the show. I felt like I had a whole understanding of how he lives ..."

I heard that parenthood idea came from House Rules, what do you think?

message 48: by Christina rae (new)

Christina rae (chrisyraejay) | 7 comments sorry guys but I hated this one
it was too predictable and the end was just awful

message 49: by Audrey (new)

Audrey C (goodreadscomreadingprodigy) | 8 comments I was able to really relate to it, being a person with AS. Of course, not as severe as Jacob's but still relatable.

message 50: by Gail (new)

Gail Jezik | 2 comments I don't get the ending very disappointing, what happened to the jury and was he guilty or not. makes me not want to read another one of her books .

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