House Rules by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a book from my personal collection. This review is my personal opinion and was not influenced by the author or publisher in any way.
From the cover:
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?
Jodi Picoult does an excellent job of weaving this story. She not only builds characters that you can relate to, but she does it in such a way that you understand them. I did not know much about Asperger's or Forensic science prior to reading this, however, I feel I have a much better understanding now. I also like the authors approach of short chapters which represented the thoughts of the main characters.
When I first started reading this book, I wasn't sure if it was going to keep my interest. I should have known better! After the first few chapters, I was hooked. It's well known that the court systems cater to a specific "normal" type. To bring in the unknown was BRILLIANT. Whether this is a realistic situation, I don't know but it seemed realistic. The scene that stuck with me the most is when Jacob was in jail. His reactions to the environment was so scary and my heart hurt for him. Then Jacob went through the trial and we get to see the reactions and thoughts of him, Theo, Emma and Oliver, it really brings the story together. The special accommodations and Jacob's reactions to certain stimuli, really gave the reader an understanding of what this situation could be like for someone with Asperger's. It seemed like Henry was more of an afterthought and that is my only complaint, I would have liked him to be woven into the story or eliminated altogether. To wait until the very last second for the climax is unusual but it worked in this situation. It did leave me wanting to know more, like what happened with Henry after the trial and what was the court's reaction when they came back with this new information? Overall a great story and I would recommend it.
From a Christian perspective:
While there wasn't much "religion" in this book there were some good elements. Like the House Rules teach about loving one another and being your Brother's keeper. I don't think it was meant exactly the way it was presented but it was there. For young readers there was one instance of extramarital sex and hints of domestic abuse. I don't think this was enough to prevent recommending this book because it was so well thought out and there are many good elements.
Love and Blessings!
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