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House Rules

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

27 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

Making Contact: What is it like to live with Asperger's Syndrome? Read this moving and insightful portrayal

Jodi Picoult's latest novel is a sensitive and moving insight into the lives of one family affected by Asperger's Syndrome. Jacob is an eighteen year old young man struggling to appear "normal" in a world that is NOT yet prepared to welcome him as he is. While unwitting...
Jodi Picoult's latest novel is a sensitive and moving insight into the lives of one family affected by Asperger's Syndrome. Jacob is an eighteen year old young man struggling to appear "normal" in a world that is NOT yet prepared to welcome him as he is. While unwittingly involving himself in a serious crime, Picoult manages to share with the reader the deepest feelings of his mother Emma, his younger brother Theo, and Jacob himself as he is forced to do the one thing that children with Asperger's find most impossible to do...to make contact with world; and in Jacob's case have his voice heard in our judicial system. Through Jacob we learn what it is truly like to live daily with the painful social isolation, eccentric behavior,and circumscribed passions of someone who struggles to just "fit in" and connect to others. From the moment you enter Jacob, Emma and Theo's life, Picoult skillfully teaches us about the pain and pleasure of having an Asperer's child in the family in vivid detail and with powerful imagery. Ironically,with this well written and absorbing novel, Picoult achieves the very contact with the reader that you will wish Jacob and others who struggle with this variant of Autism could do on their own.

posted by Nancy-Dash on April 10, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

17 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

One bright light in a sea of mediocrity

Jodi Picoult's latest book is redundant of her previous works, with the substitution of Jacob, a young man with Asperger's syndrome, for the character in previous disease (or social ill)-of-the-week plots. It's obvious Picoult's done a lot of research, and she appears t...
Jodi Picoult's latest book is redundant of her previous works, with the substitution of Jacob, a young man with Asperger's syndrome, for the character in previous disease (or social ill)-of-the-week plots. It's obvious Picoult's done a lot of research, and she appears to "nail" the character of Jacob. It's worth reading the chapters in his voice to learn about the thought process and behavior of a person with Asperger's. The other characters, however, are hardly more than cardboard cutouts. The mother is especially disappointing. How did this woman of strong educational background, great heart, and earnest endeavor, who has worked tirelessly and successfully to champion her son in the bureaucracy of education, do so without finding allies along the way to aid her when facing the challenge of a new bureaucracy in the court system? And how is it that the skills learned in a school setting were so difficult to transfer to the bureaucracy of a court setting? That just didn't ring true. Also, parents who work so hard through the system on behalf of their special-needs children are generally not taken by surprise when the child turns 18 and is considered an adult by the outside world; they work ahead of time to prepare for that eventuality, especially in this day and age when medical personnel can't even discuss care matters of an 18+-y.o. child without a signed release.

My advice: ignore the substandard plot and flat characters of most chapters, and just go for the gold: Jacob's voice. There's much to be learned there from a character worth getting to know.

posted by 299112 on March 14, 2010

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  • Posted April 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Making Contact: What is it like to live with Asperger's Syndrome? Read this moving and insightful portrayal

    Jodi Picoult's latest novel is a sensitive and moving insight into the lives of one family affected by Asperger's Syndrome. Jacob is an eighteen year old young man struggling to appear "normal" in a world that is NOT yet prepared to welcome him as he is. While unwittingly involving himself in a serious crime, Picoult manages to share with the reader the deepest feelings of his mother Emma, his younger brother Theo, and Jacob himself as he is forced to do the one thing that children with Asperger's find most impossible to do...to make contact with world; and in Jacob's case have his voice heard in our judicial system. Through Jacob we learn what it is truly like to live daily with the painful social isolation, eccentric behavior,and circumscribed passions of someone who struggles to just "fit in" and connect to others. From the moment you enter Jacob, Emma and Theo's life, Picoult skillfully teaches us about the pain and pleasure of having an Asperer's child in the family in vivid detail and with powerful imagery. Ironically,with this well written and absorbing novel, Picoult achieves the very contact with the reader that you will wish Jacob and others who struggle with this variant of Autism could do on their own.

    27 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    One bright light in a sea of mediocrity

    Jodi Picoult's latest book is redundant of her previous works, with the substitution of Jacob, a young man with Asperger's syndrome, for the character in previous disease (or social ill)-of-the-week plots. It's obvious Picoult's done a lot of research, and she appears to "nail" the character of Jacob. It's worth reading the chapters in his voice to learn about the thought process and behavior of a person with Asperger's. The other characters, however, are hardly more than cardboard cutouts. The mother is especially disappointing. How did this woman of strong educational background, great heart, and earnest endeavor, who has worked tirelessly and successfully to champion her son in the bureaucracy of education, do so without finding allies along the way to aid her when facing the challenge of a new bureaucracy in the court system? And how is it that the skills learned in a school setting were so difficult to transfer to the bureaucracy of a court setting? That just didn't ring true. Also, parents who work so hard through the system on behalf of their special-needs children are generally not taken by surprise when the child turns 18 and is considered an adult by the outside world; they work ahead of time to prepare for that eventuality, especially in this day and age when medical personnel can't even discuss care matters of an 18+-y.o. child without a signed release.

    My advice: ignore the substandard plot and flat characters of most chapters, and just go for the gold: Jacob's voice. There's much to be learned there from a character worth getting to know.

    17 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This is a superb look at Asperger's Syndrome, but not just the person suffering from it, but also the impact on family members

    Emma Hunt has dedicated her life to her son Jacob who suffers with Asperger's syndrome. Her sacrifice has come with personal lost and cost as her career was pushed aside; her ex-husband Henry the computer programmer left as he worked at home and could not concentrate with the tantrums; and her other son Theo three years younger than Jacob is expected to watch over him when mom cannot, but ignored otherwise by her as he cannot even get his permit. She lives to protect Jacob and Theo understands that the prime house rule is take care of your brother.

    However, her efforts to give her soon a life fall apart when the police charge eighteen years old Jacob with the murder of Jess Ogilvy. His inability to understand non verbal signs and comprehend social nuances puts Jacob at risk. Desperate, she hires Oliver O. Bond as Jacob's lawyer.

    This is a super look at Asperger's Syndrome, but not just the person suffering from it, but also the impact on family members especially Theo. The murder mystery tales a back seat even in the courtroom to how Henry thinks and reacts to senses overload, which can be simply crinkling of paper. Rotating perspective between family members, the lawyer and others, fans obtain a deep look at the total impact of Asperger's Syndrome.

    Harriet Klausner

    11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 30, 2010

    Too Long - Disappointing Ending

    I don't mind at all reading big books if they're engrossing. This one was not. Although the main character of Jacob, who is autistic, was interesting, I found myself getting really annoyed with some of the rest of the people (his mother, his lawyer, the cop). The "mystery" dragged out way too long and then was "solved" within 2 practically throw-away paragraphs on page 526 (of 532), and we don't find out what happens to any of the main characters after the "big reveal." After investing a fair amount of time in reading this book, I found it to be very disappointing.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Not Great but not bad

    This book had a great story to tell. I have yet to read a book with this kind of story line from the perspective of someone with Autism. The story line was in fact engaging but where it falls short are the characters. Normally Jodi Picoult's books have so many fascinating characters and with this one I really have to say that only one or maybe two of the characters caught my attention. I even found myself speed reading the chapters of the characters I had no interest in. I will say that she made Jacob very believable. I can only assume because I have personally never had the pleasure of knowing anyone with autism but it did seem very believable to me. Sadly this one not one of her best. Allot of her first books they hold you from page one and you just can't put it down, this one not so much. It is a great thing when your favorite authors become popular because then you get to read more of their books at a faster pace BUT at the same time they start to churn them out so fast and they fall short. In the end I was glad I borrowed it from the library and not paid the money to purchase it.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Very moving

    Jacob Hunt is a teenage boy with Asperger's syndrome. But then when a terrible murder happens, the police come to Jacob with questions. All of the hallmark behaviors of Asperger's - not looking someone in the eye, can look a lot like guilt to law enforcement personnel. Suddenly, Jacob and his family, who only want to fit in, feel the spotlight shining directly on them. I's a very moving reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding of others.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 31, 2010

    Is that all there is?

    I was thoroughly engaged in this book - even thought I had the ending figured out. And then --- are you sure there aren't pages missing from my book? That's it?

    Very disappointing ending - I guess Jodi had an appointment to get to or something!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    ATTENTION GRABBER!

    Emma Hunt, who is almost entirely focused on helping her eighteen-year-old son, Jacob, who has Asperser's syndrome, learn to communicate with his family and peers. Emma's life is complicated by the fact that her husband, Henry, left shortly after their younger son, Theo, was born. Fifteen-year-old Theo deeply resents the amount of time and money that his mother lavishes on his older brother. Jacob possesses so much knowledge on the subject of forensics; he could truly aid the investigators, which gets him into deep trouble However, although Jacob is very intelligent, what he sorely lacks is social skills. To help Jacob, his mother Emma hires, Jess, a pretty grad student to tutor Jacob in developing social skills. This is a compelling, thought-provoking story that grabs you right off the bat and holds your attention throughout.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 4, 2010

    When I first began reading the book, I thought that it would be primarily about Autism. I soon realized that it was also a mystery and romance novel. Autism was the central theme used to create the plot and move the tale along its path.

    This novel illustrates how being different can cause tremendous hardship and can disrupt ordinary family life; it is a tale of how dysfunction affects each member of the family in a different way; it is a tale about how hard it is to attempt to function in a normal world when everything about you and your world is not the norm.
    The story is told in the voices of the five main characters.
    1-Jacob is the main character. The author gets inside his head and really shows what it is like to have Asperger's, to be locked out of the normal world and to live in a space where all outside stimuli are larger than life. She has captured what it feels like to be an outsider, always looking in, trying to belong but never being accepted because the necessary skills are absent.
    Jacob's inability to function normally in the world has had devastating effects on the life of his entire family. He cannot read the clues people send out and he often misinterprets behavior and makes inappropriate responses. The family is preoccupied with preventing an outburst from too much sensory stimulation.
    He is an exceptionally bright senior in high school. His hobby is forensics and he uses a police scanner to learn about crime scenes, offering advice to the trained detectives.
    2-Emma, Jacob's mom, is very devoted to him, often leaving her other son to fend for himself. She works from home writing an advice column, which is ironic since she has a hard time dealing with her own problems, let alone those of strangers. Money is always tight because Jacob needs an enormous amount of intervention in order to be mainstreamed so he can function somewhat, in the real world.
    Her marriage has ended in divorce because Henry cannot cope with Jacob and his effect on their daily and married life. Emma is often preoccupied with Jacob and neglects, of necessity, everyone else. Although Henry supports them financially, he is emotionally and physically absent from the family.
    3-Theo is Jacob's brother. Because of Jacob's bizarre abnormal reactions to normal situations, Theo's needs are often ignored. Although Theo is not autistic, he also exhibits some anti-social behavior as a result of his loneliness and feelings of neglect. He wants a normal home life.
    While Jacob has no friends because his mental problems keep people away from him, Theo has no friends because when his brother appears on the scene, they shun him too. The stain of his brother's Asperger's colors him as well.
    4- Jess is Jacob's social skills tutor who is writing a paper on Autism. She has helped him when it comes to interacting in the world in ordinary social situations. He really relates well to her and likes being with her because she makes him feel comfortable. When she is found murdered, Jacob is accused and arrested. His arrest sets the story in motion.
    5-Oliver is the lawyer who represents Jacob in the murder trial. He relates well to Jacob and is helpful to Emma. The relationship that develops between them makes the story a bit contrived. It seems convenient and not very plausible. He is 28 and she is the mother of an 18 year old.
    Once you become drawn into the story, however, the harder it becomes to put the book down. It is upsetting because of the injustice of the way society treats people who march to a different drummer, but it is also very exciting and keeps you guessing as to the ultimate outcome.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A great read and an exceptional enlightening learning experience. Should be required for every educator and any others who work with children.

    Once more Jodi Picoult has given us an outstanding novel which not only entertains, but also clearly brings to light the dilemmas which families who have children with a behavioral disability have to live with every day. I couldn't wait to read this book and had a hard time putting it down when there were other things that needed to be done. It gave me insight into autism and specifically Aspergers Syndrome. The characters were so real. Emma, the mother of Jacob, was a very real person who had to change her whole life to help her son live in his world with minimal conflicts. I am a great admirer of Picoult's and can't begin to understand how she is able to do all of the research which her novels frequently demand.
    This book kept me on the edge throughout and I couldn't wait to see how it was going to end, but when I finished it I missed not being able to read any more!! I admit to being a fan of Jodi Picoult's but she has written several I wasn't wild about, however, this was really tops them all. I heartily recommend this to book clubs and everyone else.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2011

    had problem with the portrayal of an aspie child

    As a mom with a aspie child, I had a problem with how Jacob talked about himself in the first Jacob chapter. Most aspie kids write in logical format and cannot describe why they are feeling a certain way, they just know that they do, therefore, they react. They have a problem with being insightful and I could not get past the first person of Jacob to get through the rest of the book. I am sure the author did much research on the traits of the child, as the "mom" describes the behaviors to a T - it's the Jacob part that I had a problem with - just too chatty vs logical straight forward thinking.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 3, 2010

    sterotypical

    My friend recommended this book whose son is Autistic, I found it very steorotypical and not very entertaining, granted the justice system treats disabled people different,I didn't need 500 pages worth.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2010

    Controversial diagnosis

    I have enjoyed other books by Jodi Picoult and appreciate the amount of research she puts into her work. Although diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is a complicated matter, I believe the Jacob character would fall more into the high-functioning autism area. I have a child with Asperger's, and also know multiple others with this diagnosis. In addition to multiple issues probably not interesting to the average person to elaborate here, it seems to me 'Aspies' can get by on their own in adult life, not having such dramatic meltdowns and withdrawing so severely by such mundane events such as crumpling paper. The Jacob character does not seem like he would have any chance of living independently, with way too many 'quirks' to overcome.
    I also figured out what happened very early on in the book - she stated it pretty clearly in my opinion - so at the end I was disappointed when for me there was no surprise ending. Ha unless the surprise was that we don't find out what happens to any of the characters. Overall I found this one very disappointing, and misleading about Asperger's Syndrome.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2010

    absolutely loved this book

    Sometimes this author is hit and miss but this book was phenomenal. I could not put it down and read it in a few days. You fall right in love with the main characters and really feel like you are in the story.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2010

    Loved it, but ....

    House Rules was a very well-written, informative and entertaining book. While I loved the character of Jacob, my heart went out to Theo. I learned alot about Asperger's Syndrome and felt the author did a great job getting the reader inside the head of Jacob. However, I was disappointed by the ending. I don't always expect a happy ending, but it would have been good to have a few of the loose ends tied up.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Another winner for Picoult!

    This is a story about Jacob Hunt who has Asperger's syndrome. He just wants to fit in as does his family but suddenly they are cast into the spotlight when Jacob's social skills tutor is found dead. This is a compelling story about how an entire family has to deal with Asperger's syndrome; not just the person who has the syndrome. Very compelling and compassionate; that we shouldn't judge a person from their cover (or book! :) ). Picoult is known for twists in her stories and this is no different. Wonderful story and writing; another story to make us all stop and think!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2012

    Disappointing

    I wanted to read this book because my son has AS and I wanted to read about a character like him. I wanted to like the book and the author and tried to separate my feelings on autism (blaming it on vaccines? Really?) from the plot and characters. In the end I was disappointed in the entire plot, characters, and ending. I couldn't believe the contrivances that were so neatly thrown together in the last few pages, and was disappointed in the abrupt ending and stereotypical characters. In contrast, "Nineteen Minutes" wove a real story and led up to a painful ending and had closure (for lack of a better word)for the main characters. Here, Jacb's mother is supposed to understand him and how he processes information beter thanevery other character, but even she gets caught up in the misunderstanding? The trial was a trial to read, when it should have been the most interesting part of the book.

    (On a personal note, my son doesn't take 3 dozen supplements, he gets a Flintstone vitamin, he eats what we all eat, there are no Blue Fridays. Emma as a mom of a son with AS was not believable to me, because she and Theo were slaves to Jacob's routine, no exceptions, instead of helping him cope with the world, she enabled him to never have to do those things and expected everyone else to do the same.)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2012

    Great!

    Fantastic novel that I couldn't put down! Get it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2012

    Great Book

    I read this book at 13 and thought it was very well written. Living with a special needs younger brother, this gave me some insight into what gos through his mind as things occur througout the day. The book was very moving and at times brought me to tears, wanting wat was best for Jacob, but also seeing justice done. I would HIGHLY reccommend this book to annyone, especialy if you know someone with special needs.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2012

    Predictable Piccoult

    Good enough to keep me reading but, predictable like many Piccoult books. They're like Lifetime movies...watchable but predictable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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