BookTalk: Jodi Picoult’s “House Rules”


I have not read any reviews. Mine is solely mine.  Anyway…

I am a big fan of Jodi Picoult’s; I always look forward to the ethical dilemma that she raises in each book and the creative plot that surrounds it. “House Rules” is about a teenager, Jacob, with Asperger’s syndrome and has an obsession with forensic science; his mother, Emma, who loves him and makes the world revolve around him, including allowing him to set up mock crime scenes with corn syrup and red food coloring; his brother, Theo, who wants to be a part of an intact picture-perfect family and resorts to being a Peeping Tom and theft; his lawyer, Oliver, who is a rookie in criminal law and wonders if he should go back to being a farrier; an investigator, Rich, who had to do his job, but got to know the whiz kid better; his social skills tutor, Jessica, who encountered an unfortunate fate; and his father, Henry, who has never been diagnosed, but shows traits of autism. Each of the characters faces a dilemma – am I doing the right thing? Picoult does a fine job developing each character through altering narrations. The descriptions and emotions are very real: from the mother who sometimes wonders what life might be like if Jacob did not have Asperger’s syndrome to Theo trying to cope with having a brother with Asperger’s syndrome. In fact, I got a better understanding of the behaviors of someone with Asperger’s syndrome. The author also does a good job “discussing” the information about vaccines (mainly mercury) and autism, but I am left wondering if she believes that there is a link when Emma states on p. 47, “…but the next one is all I needed to convince me there’s some sort of connection:

1. My son looked like any other other two-year-old until he had a round of shots that included DTaP, Hib, and hepatitis B.

I don’t think it’s a causal link….”

Except the controversy has been with MMR vaccine. As a mother reading this, though, I can relate to trying to find a cause for my child’s illness.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was suspenseful in that I kept wondering who really committed the crime and when was Theo going to step up to the plate? I didn’t feel there were enough facts to incriminate the person on trial (trying not to give any spoilers) for the crime he alleged committed. Is that how our justice system really works? All along I kept thinking, but we don’t know if he really did it!

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