Jodi Picoult: House Rules
always have a hard time embracing and accepting differences. House Rules tells
the story of a family sentenced to a lifetime of subtle glances and whispering,
because one of its members has Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning form of
an eighteen-year-old high school senior who is obsessed with forensic analysis as
a result of his Asperger’s. When his social skills tutor turns up dead, he is
the prime suspect in the murder. As if his mother Emma didn’t have enough on her
plate already, she is forced to deal with the possibility of having Jacob
locked away for life.
obsession with forensic analysis leads him to show up unexpectedly at crime
scenes, offering unsolicited advice to police officers. He also sets up fake
crime scenes for others to solve.
Rules is an attempt at
murder mystery, it isn’t very successful: the story’s ending is very
predictable, and this reviewer kept waiting for a twist to the plot, but it
never appeared. Furthermore, most of
the novel is dedicated to explaining the symptoms of Asperger’s
rather than letting us see for ourselves through Jacob.
That being said, the novel does succeed in conveying the thoughts of a
person dealing with Asperger’s, describing in detail what it’s like
to be on the autistic spectrum, and what it’s like to be related to someone who
rules are a set of rules laid down by Emma to govern the house. Although
Jacob is the eldest of two, his younger brother Theo is always the one who has
to be in charge. And because the house rules dictate that the brothers must
look out for each other for as long as they live, and since Asperger’s makes Jacob
reluctant to ever break a rule; he unwittingly implicates himself in the murder
of his tutor by trying to set up a crime scene to cover up for his brother.
is told from the perspectives of five main characters including Jacob. Having
different narrators provides insight into the minds of the
characters. Jacob is highly self-centred. Emma is desperate to keep her child
out of prison and Theo just wants a normal life for himself, a life that wasn’t
dominated by his brother’s Asperger’s.