Sunday, January 5, 2014

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

   This is yet another book that my mother recommended to me, and it is yet another book that did not disappoint.

   HOUSE RULES is about a teenager with Asperger's Syndrome who is accused of murder. It's one part feel-good family, one part murder mystery, and one part courthouse drama with a sprinkling of autism awareness and romance. And it also happens to be an incredibly interesting and a powerful read.

   Thanks to the cover and title, when I first saw this book and knew nothing about it, I kind of assumed that it was about a dull suburban family doing dull things and ruining each others' lives in the process. I'm happy to report that this was the complete opposite. Our suburban family is interesting, realistic, and damaged, but close, and the plot keeps you going until one in the morning. {I say this from experience.}

   It's clear that this book was really well-researched, but I do feel as if some parts were slightly over-exaggerated on the author's part–almost all of Jacob' symptoms, for example. I mean, seriously, it doesn't matter how bad you are at picking up the feel of a room, if you're arrested for murder, you're probably going to know that you're getting arrested for murder. Needless to say, having the main freakin' character not even understand how much shit he's in for more than half the book was endlessly frustrating. Eurgh, Jacob, you sound like a sweetheart, but sometimes I just wanted to smack your head. {Does this make me a terrible person? Possibly.}

   Okay, but aside from that little nuance, Jacob was the kind of character that you couldn't help but root for. Although to be frank, I was probably really just rooting for Emma Hunt, who was honestly the most good-natured, caring, and likeable Hot Mom type fictional mother I've ever read. Anything less would be someone detestable. Like the absent father. The instant he showed up in the narrative, I felt an intense desire to reach into the book and strangle him. Eurgh. 

   I can already see that this is turning into a paragraph-by-paragraph essay on each of the characters, so I'm going to cut myself off here and follow with this before I delve into the real stuff: Oliver? Adorable. He's competing for the title of 'Most Adorable Character' with his poodle, in my mind. Theo? Strangely earnest and realistic. I was surprised that I wound up liking him quite a bit.

   The police officer was really too minor a character to really analyze–of the five narrators, he was easily the least significant. This makes me sad, probably because I have a weakness for law enforcers, but mostly because he was introduced as a potential love interest/figure of romantic conflict to Emma and then was kind of just shucked aside and labeled as 'that bad man who arrested the autistic kid.' I mean, is it just me, or does it seem like everything that doesn't feature a cop as the main character has the police as a sort of unified force of evil and injustice? Obviously, American law enforcement isn't in its prime at the moment, but that certainly doesn't mean every police officer ever is a massive jerk when doing their job.

   To be fair, Rich had some redeeming qualities, and really, my beef with this character is really minor and personal, so you shouldn't even take me seriously on this. I find that I usually have to have at least one thing to complain about in everything I read or watch, because otherwise, these reviews would all be very short, wouldn't they?

   So, I suppose in the end, I simply don't know how to express how fascinating and riveting this book was for me, in my experience. Of course, like everything, it had its flaws, but like many good and enjoyable things, they didn't detain from the overall experience that the story, characters, and setting provide. It's a heartwarming tale about autism and those who live with it struggling against prejudice and misunderstanding in a white American suburbia–okay, I'm just going to cut myself off now, because apparently I can't formulate my words into actual, coherent thoughts at the moment. If I come up with a way to word my now-stale emotions towards this book, I'll get back to you guys.

OVERALL RATING:  ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆