Thursday, February 17, 2011

House Rules

I've found myself really enjoying Jodi Picoult novels this year. With limited access to YA books, I've found that Picoult's writing satisfies my need for quick reads with entertaining plots. I appreciate the amount of research that goes into her novels and find that some of them make great 'bridge' books -- novels for readers who have outgrown YA lit (or have read everything in the library!), but aren't quite ready to only read adult fiction. As always, I recommend reading the book yourself before recommending it to a young person.

House Rules seems to fit the bill. It is the story of Jacob, a teenage boy with Asperger's syndrome who is accused of the murder of his tutor. Told from the perspectives of Jacob, his brother, his mother, his lawyer, and a police detective, the plot keeps the reader wondering what really happened until the very end. The changing narrators give insight and beg sympathy from the reader. Jacob's chapters are powerful and show that he is just a boy that wants to fit in, but never really will.

I have taught one student on the autistic spectrum and spent much of the novel thinking about him and our interactions. With the increase of Asperger's diagnoses, this would be a great novel for teachers to read, as well as students...really anyone would benefit from the lessons of tolerance and patience that resonate in Picoult's novel. I think that if my autistic student's classmates  read this book (and they are at about the right age now), his life and theirs would be richer.

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