Tuesday, 15 February 2011

House Rules –by Jodi Picoult

Your son is accused of murder.

You fear he might be guilty.

What would you do?

Someone at school mentioned this book.

I had not read anything by JP before, and so when I saw it on the One-Week-Short-Loan-Best-Sellers shelf in the Library last Monday, I borrowed it. Last week was horrendously busy and I was incredibly tired – but I persisted and got through the book in 4½ days [even though I was teaching on 3½ of them and had 3 evening meetings] so I was able to return it on time.

I cannot waste my money on Library Fines, after all.

house rules picoult

The story revolves round Jacob, a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome who is obsessed with a TV series called Crimebusters. The book is told by the various characters  [Jacob, mum Emma, brother Theo, lawyer Oliver and cop Rich] who each take chapters in turn, thus presenting different viewpoints of the story.

I’d virtually worked out the ending quite early on, but that did not detract from my enjoyment of the plot.


  • some aspects of Oliver’s character seemed a little ‘contrived’ [but I suppose that was necessary to make the whole thing work]
  • I felt Rich’s character could have been better developed. His chapters were less ‘satisfying’ than the others.


  • The portrayal of AS is extremely good [I’ve had experience of children and adults on the autistic spectrum both inside and outside of school]
  • Crimebusters is a very loosely disguised CSI [I recognised a number of the episodes described as ones I had watched – we both like CSI!]

I am not sure how someone with no experience of AS would enjoy this, and the CSI/forensic science aspect plays a huge part in the plot. But I enjoyed it a lot, and thought it was cleverly written. Maybe I will try some of JP’s other stuff now [although I tried the ‘taster chapter’ at the end of HR, and it did not grab me at all!]

Can anyone recommend which JP I should read next?


  1. Some of Jodi's are much more readbale than others. I think her earlier ones centred around the Amish world were more thoughtful.I'll try and think of some titles!

  2. I have read a couple of JP books and have enjoyed them. Keeping Faith is an interesting portail of how the media can affect lives and blows things out of proportion (I have to say that I feel the way the media gets involved is very American - sorry to all your US readers.)
    Can't remember what the others were, there used to be someone here who collected her books but I haven't seen any recently.

  3. The first book by JP I read was "My Sister's Keeper" which I thought was very good and had lots of things to think about (haven't seen the movie).

  4. Just been to hunt out my JP collection...
    They all deal with different issues, so to an extent it depends what you're interested in.

    Plain truth - the Amish one. Pretty good
    My Sister's keeper - saviour siblings. Also good.
    The pact - teenage suicide pact/ enmeshed families. Good
    Salem falls - teenage girls hounding a male teacher with a past. Good

    Handle with care - girl with osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease). Reasonable
    Keeping faith - a daughter who performs miracles. Interesting but odd
    Perfect match - interesting as a detectivey story, also a bit farfetched

    Change of heart - too farfetched for me to believe (but that's speaking as a dr!)
    Picture perfect - marriage to a control freak. Not her best.
    Second glance - also weird and not her best
    Mercy - "mercy killing"
    Songs of the humpback whale - child abuse. Not as good.
    Nineteen minutes - kid kills classmates with gun. OK
    Vanishing Acts - OK
    The tenth circle - prob the worst

    I'd go for the top 4 first (but that's just my personal opinion)

  5. Thanks Helen for that phenomenally helpful run down of JPs books.
    I may check out Plain truth- as it is Amish, but not so sure about the others [Maybe Keeping Faith as ElizT has mentioned that one too]

  6. 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.


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