Thursday, February 9, 2017

Book Review: House Rules by Jodi Picoult

House Rules
Author: Jodi Picoult
Publication: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (November 9, 2010)

Description: 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?

My Thoughts: This story is told from five points of view and they are woven together to talk about the time Jacob Hunt is accused of murder. Jacob is eighteen years old and is most notable for having Asperger's. He is currently obsessed with forensics. He watches and takes notes on a television program called Crimebusters and treasures his police scanner. He sets up crime scenes for his mother to analyze. He has no friends but does have relationship with college graduate student Jess Ogilvy who has been hired to help teach Jacob how to get along in social situations.

Jacob's mother Emma also tells us about Jacob and her life in the sections that in her point of view. She clearly shows that having a son with Asperger's and advocating for him is more than a full time job. She loves her son but she also realizes how much caring for him has changed her life.

Jacob's younger brother Theo also shares his point of view. He shares his frustration with having Jacob as a brother. His needs always come second in their household and he resents that someday he will be the one who has to take care of his brother. He has developed a recent "hobby" of wandering into other people's homes and taking small souvenirs. I felt really sorry for him as I was reading because I could easily see how difficult his life with Jacob was.

The fourth point of view is from Detective Rich Matson who is called in when murder victim Jess Ogilvy is thought to be a missing person. He has interacted with Jacob when Jacob showed up at a crime scene of a man who died of hypothermia. He is the divorced father of a seven year old daughter. He doesn't know anything about Asperger's when the story begins and treats Jacob as he would any normal person.

The final viewpoint character in Oliver Bond. Oliver is a new lawyer who is hired by Emma when Jacob is arrested for the murder of Jess Ogilvy. Oliver has never handled a murder case but he is determined to do his best for Jacob.

Each viewpoint character has a very distinct voice. Together all the viewpoints tell the story but, even so, it wasn't until the very end of the book that the reader finds out what actually happened when Jess dies.

The story was compellingly readable. I couldn't put it down because I was so involved with Jacob and Emma. This was an entertaining mystery with a unique main character.

Favorite Quote:
"Teachers deserve respect," I explain.

"Why do they get it for free, when everyone else has to earn it?"

I blink at him, speechless. Because the world isn't fair, I think, but Jacob already knows that better than most of us.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read anything by Jodi Picoult (yet?) but her stories always sound so interesting.


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