Wednesday, March 16, 2011

House Rules

by Jodi Picoult

My reading of this book was horrifically interrupted when I neglected to bring it back with me from Maine last weekend. Ok, maybe not horrifically, but I was at a really good part, and I didn't realize I left it until I was 1/2 way back to Massachusetts. I was this close to taking the next exit and going back for it. Fortunately my mother was kind enough to offer to send it through the mail and I could finally find out what happens.

My brother has never officially been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, but there's a good chance that he has it. Reading from the point of view of an "Aspie" gave me such insight into their thought process and lack of empathy, I almost feel that if I had known this when we were growing up we may not have fought so often. My brother's not quite as fanatic (we didn't have Blue Days and Yellow Days), but he definitely has some traits. I understood Theo quite often because that's often how I felt about my own relationship.

Jodi weaves her characters so well that they jump off the page. She can write as a 40-year-old single mother as well as she can write as a 15-year-old teenager. Her seamless ability to hop between the minds of the different characters adds to the flavor of the story. It's almost like you get more than one story because it's told from all those different viewpoints. Jodi is one of few authors who are able to go from character to character without getting confusing or annoying.

One thing I found interestingly odd was that Emma and Oliver and the psychiatrists kept saying how literal Jacob is and that he doesn't understand normal idioms used in everyday languages, yet no one asks him directly whether or not he killed Jess. One question could have saved everyone a lot of trouble! I very much enjoyed how everyone skirted around the question because "I don't want to know" (Oliver, the lawyer), but if they had, the trial would have gone a lot differently.

As usual, Jodi has written a wonderful story about an unique family and their struggle just to survive. You can't help but feel sympathy for all of the characters no matter what their situation. In "House Rules" she takes a family that could live next door or even be your own and shows how they stick together to make it through the tough times. One of the "house rules" in the book is to take care of your brother, no matter what, because he's the only one you've got, and that is the underlying theme through it all.

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