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House Rules by Jodi Picoult

“When your son can’t look you in the eye…does that mean he’s guilty?
Jacob Hunt is a teen with Asperger’s syndrome. He’s hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, though he is brilliant in many ways. But he has a special focus on one subject – forensic analysis. A police scanner in his room clues him in to crime scenes, and he’s always showing up and telling the cops what to do. And he’s usually right.
But when Jacob’s small hometown is rocked by a terrible murder, law enforcement comes to him. Jacob’s behaviors are hallmark Asperger’s, but they look a lot like guilt to the local police. Suddenly the Hunt family, who only want to fit in, are directly in the spotlight. For Jacob’s mother, Emma, it’s a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother, Theo, it’s another indication why nothing is normal because of Jacob.
And over this small family, the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?” –
* http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6614960-house-rules

This book was kind of different from my normal reads, as it was more of a realistic fiction, and a mystery. However, I accidentally ran across this book when I was looking at some of Picoult’s books, and I was instantly interested when I saw that it involved a child with Asperger’s. With it being April, I wanted to read some memoirs or fictions involving Autism and Asperger’s. I thought I would give this one a shot, as I had read a few of her others, and enjoyed how they showed people’s different points of view.

Overall, this book was interesting, and I really enjoyed reading the point of view from the different characters. The basic plot is about this teenager named Jacob, who has Asperger’s. In the story, one aspect of his routine is he has to watch a show called Crimebusters every afternoon, and he is really into crime investigations. Well, he finds himself smack in the middle of an investigation when his tutor is found dead, and Jacob is then put on trial for murder. This, of course, is a huge ordeal, as Jacob has a hard time dealing with social situations and things that are out of the norm of his routine. What the reader sees is how different people view these behaviors, while trying to work out how this girl actually died, and who was guilty. I figured out what happened early on, but I didn’t really feel like solving the case was the entire point of the book.

I read a lot of reviews, and many seemed upset by the portrayal of a child with Asperger’s. I get kind of crazy reading reviews of books or TV shows sometimes, when people make assumptions about how a character should be. Now, there are some situations where the characters and scenarios are completely ridiculous, and in that case, it just seems lazy. The reality is, characters, like people, are all different. You react to situations in different ways, based on how you were raised, personality, genetic make-up, whatever. Putting my tangent I just went off aside, I felt that the portrayal, while not perfect, seemed pretty accurate of one person with Asperger’s. Not every person with Asperger’s is going to need a color coded meal everyday or become obsessed with crime shows. I think that the portrayal may have been based on more research than reality, but it was still overall a really good read.


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