My rating: 4 of 5 stars
House Rules is a typical Picoult-style novel, containing her trademark controversial issues, shifting perspectives, and legal conflicts. However, despite being very formulaic, Picoult delivers another winner.
The story revolves around Jacob, a teenager with Aspergers Syndrome and it is Jacob’s voice that provides the most interesting viewpoint for the story. From Jacob’s perspective, Picoult takes us into a mind that is completely logical, brutally honest, yet thoroughly lacking empathy. He is incredibly intelligent and focused (maybe too much so), but he cannot communicate the way most people can and any deviation from his routine causes panic and meltdowns for Jacob. His mother and brother try their best to cope with Jacob’s disability but everyday is challenging for the small family. When Jacob is convicted of murdering his communications tutor, the family’s struggle to cope becomes even more desperate while in the public eye.
Picoult did not really push the vaccine and autism debate and I appreciated this. It is a very overused line these days, even after having been proven false. She did list other lesser known but effective treatments that Jacob was trying and it was a good reprieve from the other “party lines.”
The conclusion of the book was not as shocking as some of her past endings. The ending was more or less left up to the reader. Picoult does explain the ending further on her website for those who do want closure. I however like the ending that left me more reflective than most books call for a reader to be. It was a very well delivered story and the only reason I did not give a full five stars was due to the predictability of her formula. But then again, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right?