House Rules by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was so hard to put down because it made you think. First of all, Jacob is an 18 year old with Asperger's Syndrome, a highly functioning form of autism. I have taught students with autism and Asperger's before, and in some ways he reminds me of them, but in others, not so much. That is one reason it was so interesting to me.
I do tend to be critical of the books I read, even when I enjoy them. One thing I didn't like was that each chapter was from a different character's perspective because I would sometimes forget from whose perspective I was supposed to be seeing things from, and I would have to go back many pages to find out. That's not so bad if you have real pages, but when it's a NOOK, you have a lot of backing up to do, it gets tiresome.
Also, I don't see how she could completely get in Jacob's head and know his thoughts (yes, I realize he's a fictional character) since the author can't possibly know exactly how an Aspie or autistic person thinks. I don't think he would use extraneous words such as "like." I realize she attempted to take on the persona of an Aspie for a reason, and she surely made her point, but as I said, I tend to be critical since I teach reading and writing.
Another thing is that she really could have ended the book sooner. What the reader already predicted had happened was a long, drawn-out process. It seems strange that no one would have asked Jacob exactly what truth they were supposed to tell. They said he responded to explicit questions and wouldn't lie, and no one asked? Six hundred pages was overkill, and she used a lot of cliches.
Last, the ending was incomplete... for me. I wanted a true resolution. What I got instead: the characters driving to the courthouse, and then using my own imagination. I wanted to read how the D.A. and judge responded. I wanted to know if Theo continued his shenanigans. I wanted to know if the kids in school continued to reject them. I wanted to know how the town reacted. I wanted to know what the dad did in the end. Picoult made me like her characters, and I wanted to know more.
However, while I have complaints from a reader's perspective, I have to give Picoult praise for writing a thought-provoking, engaging story with very real and complex characters to whom the audience could relate. I truly wanted to know what was going to happen to all of them, and I had a hard time putting this book down.
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