Poignant, bittersweet, emotional, and tragic.
All of these words come to mind to describe House Rules, Jodi Picoult's newest novel. The story follows Jacob, a young man with Asperger's Syndrome, an affliction classified as high-functioning autism. While all teens suffer growing pains, and while most parents at times do not understand their children, Jacob, literally, does not understand the rest of the world.
Jacob is a forensic science buff who routinely shows up at crime scenes to "help" the local police force. Figuring out whodunnit fascinates him, but when his social skills tutor is murdered, everyone who does not understand Jacob's condition is horrified when he seemingly cannot even express grief at Jess's death. Jacob injects himself into the investigation but soon finds himself playing a far greater role than onlooker: suspect.
This book explores how the legal system works...and how it doesn't, for someone who does not know how to communicate, and does not understand social cues. It is the story of a male who longs to fit in, but does not know how to begin to try...a mother who loves her son fervently, but cannot comprehend his life.
This book asks: define normal.
Who really can?