Friday, April 30, 2010

House Rules - Jodi Picoult

In the past, I have sometimes felt like I'm the only person on the planet who hadn't read any of Jodi Picoult's books. I suppose I heard so much about My Sister's Keeper that I had absolutely no interest in reading anything by Picoult. This was my mistake, as I found out after a friend who works in the library recommended House Rules to me.

Jacob Hunt is a eighteen-year-old boy with Asperger's syndrome, and the main character of House Rules. He is incapable of interacting socially in the way that others do--in the book, it's described (roughly; I'm too lazy to look it up) as if everyone else was speaking Farsi and expecting a monolingual English-speaker to understand what was going on. One of the common characteristics of AS is that the person will have a particular area of focus, a sort of obsession. Jacob Hunt's area of focus is forensic analysis. His mother bought him a police scanner for a birthday present, and he often goes to crime scenes to assist the police, usually figuring out what happened far before the police do. But when Jacob's social skills tutor, Jess Ogilvy, is found dead, foul play is suspected, and Jacob becomes a prime suspect.

Jodi Picoult writes in such a way that until page 527 of 532, I was never quite sure what had happened. I don't want to give away any details, but I will say that Picoult uses her words very carefully. The things her characters say and the way they behave made me think, at one time or another, that three different people had killed Jess Ogilvy. But Picoult never spells it out; she writes things that lead to assumptions, and those assumptions (or at least, my assumptions) are continually proved wrong. While I still cannot speak for or against any of Jodi Picoult's other novels, House Rules is a wonderful book, and I highly recommend it.

1 comment:

  1. I have only read one other of Picoults books 19 minutes which I can recommend. I think the only criticism I've read about her books is that they can follow the same forumla eg court case, flashbacks, twist/revelation at the end.