“House Rules” by Jodi Picoult is a book that I stumbled upon and had in my possession for quite some time before starting to read it. The copy I own is electronic and on my iPhone; one day, I finished the book I was reading at lunch so I opened “House Rules” for my train ride home. I was amazed at how quickly I found myself sucked into the story. Say what you will about Jodi Picoult, but she certainly knows how to write a captivating novel.
What makes “House Rules” so interesting? The intimate experience it brings to readers in regards to its characters, one of who is an eighteen-year-old autistic boy named Jacob. Being inside his head was astounding. “We understand when someone else is in pain; it just affects us differently than it affects other humans. I see it as the next step of evolution; I cannot take away your sadness, so why should I acknowledge it?” (House Rules, ch6 Jacob, pg 8) The apparent coldness that Jacob functions under is what made his character so interesting to read about. I think Jodi Picoult did a fantastic job with regards to his character.
There are several different characters in “House Rules” that tell the story. First, we meet Jacob and his family. Jacob, his younger brother Theo, and his mother Emma all take turns telling the story along with a few other characters. I really enjoyed focusing on different individuals within one family as well as outsiders. It really lets you get involved with the whole world of the novel.
Seeing the world through Emma’s eyes was a different experience, “I know how to handle their morbid curiosity; it’s their kindness that might break me.” (House Rules, ch1 Emma, pg 14). It really makes you wonder how insanely difficult it would be to handle not just life with an autistic child, but the morbid curiosity of strangers, not to mention their pity. There are a lot of challenging questions raised when reading this book and it really did make you think.
I don’t want to go too deep into what the book was about beyond mentioning the characters because I don’t want to give too much away. I will say that a girl turns up dead and Jacob becomes the main suspect. It was certainly a different read.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, to most people I would; I found the book to be mesmerizing, I couldn’t put it down. That being said, there were some faults I found in the book. For one thing, I thought it ended a little abruptly, but the more I reflected on the book the more I thought the ending worked. What really irked me about the book was how a few characters went on rants about vaccinations causing autism. I almost put the book down when I read that because my frustration level shot through the roof. There was one guy who started this whole theory and he has been debunked thoroughly. Most of his ‘research’ was just made up. Vaccines do not cause autism, not even a little bit. But, if you can get past that ridiculousness, the book is quite a good read.