House Rules by Jodi Picoult
Release Date – March 2, 2010
Publisher Website – Atria /Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 532 pages
My Rating- 6/10
**borrowed from a friend**
Here is the Goodreads synopsis
When your son can't look you in the eye...does that mean he's guilty?This novel was a book club selection. I have read previous Jodi Picoult books and enjoyed them. Plain Truth, Salem Falls and The Pact come to mind. However, for me, House Rules was not one I would recommend to someone just discovering Jodi Picoult. As mentioned, I feel she has novels that better showcase her talent, and ones that have a more developed plot
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?
Jodi Picoult’s writing tends to deliver you a premise that requires you to think. There is no right or wrong, everything is shades of grey. You are supposed to feel conflicted about what is going on. Her writing follows a similar pattern in most of her books. I find that this pattern is something I am expecting and was able to guess the “twist” of the story at the end pretty early on in the novel. It just felt very predictable, and I wonder if that is because I already know her style.
The characters in House Rules are all flawed, but relatable. You can mostly understand why each one does what they do, even when they are infuriating you for doing it. The novel is told from different perspectives and I did find that some of them sounded the same at times. It made it harder to distinguish one character from another and I didn’t really feel connected to them as a result.
I once wanted to study criminology. Might be a little strange, but I have always been interested in shows like CSI, American Justice, etc. Jacob’s obsession with crime scenes, Dr Henry Lee, and Crimebusters (the novel’s version of CSI) was interesting. Jacob’s entire character was the most interesting and developed in the story.
I felt the novel really shined with Jacob, and the impact on the family. I could have read more about that part of the plot and been quite happy. Theo, Jacob’s brother, was someone I felt for. He truly was just trying to get a sense of everything and is not very happy about basically being ignored by his stretched thin already mother.
I did learn quite a bit about Aspergers during the coarse of the novel. However rather than feeling like Ms Picoult had done her research and incorporated it into the story, I sometimes felt like I was reading a textbook. It was more technical than applied to the story.
The ending was a little infuriating for me. It was very open and didn’t really resolve what I wanted resolved. You are left with some pretty big questions. I literally turned the last page and expected to see more. I wanted some form of closure, especially since this is a stand alone novel.
While there are some things I found ok in the story, I would personally recommend others if you are interested in this particular author. House Rules was lacking something I found in her other novels that prevented me from connecting with it the way I wanted to.