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House Rules | [Jodi Picoult]

House Rules

One of America’s most popular authors, Jodi Picoult has earned a reputation for crafting riveting, topical fiction. In House Rules she examines how being different can have dire consequences. Teenager Jacob Hunt has Asperger’s syndrome. A forensic science wizard, he follows his scanner to show up at crime scenes and give law enforcement officials his advice.
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Publisher's Summary

They tell me I'm lucky to have a son who's so verbal, who is blisteringly intelligent, who can take apart the broken microwave and have it working again an hour later. They think there is no greater hell than having a son who is locked in his own world, unaware that there's a wider one to explore. But try having a son who is locked in his own world, and still wants to make a connection. A son who tries to be like everyone else, but truly doesn't know how.

Jacob Hunt is a teenage boy with Asperger's syndrome. He's hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, and like many kids with AS, Jacob has a special focus on one subject -- in his case, forensic analysis. He's always showing up at crime scenes, thanks to the police scanner he keeps in his room, and telling the cops what they need to do...and he's usually right. But then his town is rocked by a terrible murder and, for a change, the police come to Jacob with questions. All of the hallmark behaviors of Asperger's - not looking someone in the eye, stimulatory tics and twitches, flat affect - 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. For his mother, Emma, it's a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother, Theo, it's another indication of why nothing is normal because of Jacob. And over this small family the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?

Emotionally powerful from beginning to end, House Rules looks at what it means to be different in our society, how autism affects a family, and how our legal system works well for people who communicate a certain way - and fails those who don't.

©2010 Jodi Picoult (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC

What Members Say

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  •  
    Cathy Northern CA Coast 03-09-10
    Cathy Northern CA Coast 03-09-10 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I Was Entertained But Not Enthralled"

    I'm a fan of Picoult (not an extravagant flag waver, but I usually enjoy her books enough to keep me buying them). This was an entertaining story with moderately good narration. If this is starting to sound like a school grade of "C", it is. The book would have been improved with editing. I love long books, but only if their depth and length are a benefit. This book went on at least two hours longer than necessary. The conclusion came in the last nine minutes and was sketchy at best (but didn't leave me scratching my head too much). All in all, if you're a Picoult fan and looking for some entertainment, try this. If you're new to Picoult you could do better than this novel as an introduction. The character definition was weak, the story was strong, and the organization was iffy. I'm not sorry I read this, but not especially glad I did either.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katie Mentor, OH, United States 03-12-10
    Katie Mentor, OH, United States 03-12-10 Member Since 2006
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    "author's depiction of autism is inaccurate"

    Jodi Picoult 's writing is compelling and I quickly found myself immersed in the story. As the mother of an high functioning autistic son I was curious as to how the plot would develope. Her depiction of the autistic son was so two-dimensional and insulting to those on the spectrum that by the end I was disgusted.
    The entire ending assumes that those on the spectrum behave as preprogrammed robots with no ability to censor their actions, no ability to add what they know to what they've been taught. This is not so. The novel carries on for chapters (spoiler) because no one bothers to ask the boy if he is guilty and he simply doesn't mention that he didn't do it?!! Even after he goes to jail and then on trial!!! And this doesn't even touch on the misinformation Picoult throws in there about autism and vaccines (she needed to do her research, the doctor who initiated the study linking vaccines and autism and the medical journal who printed it retracted all findings because the study's research didn't follow ethical guidelines- in other words the doctor cheated to force results because his financers were suing the people who made the vaccine). Yet, even after naming the mmr vaccine as the cause of autism, she does point out well known celebs diagnosed with autism- these individuals well into their 50's and 60's-too old to have recieved the mmr vaccine. Lastly Picoult depicted the mother and brother as social pariahs because of the main character's autism. Fortunately, the world doesn't work that way. If you do read this book please don't take away the picture Picoult paints of autism as accurate. She didn't do her research

    37 of 45 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Carmichael, CA, United States 07-11-10
    William Carmichael, CA, United States 07-11-10
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    "Fascinating, infuriating, and waaaaay too long!"

    This story had me fascinated for the first twelve hours: I was learning far more than I ever wanted to know about a human disorder, but I realized so-called "normal" people need a look into this disorder because we need insight into a world so strange as to be almost unbelievable, yet some of our fellow beings live with it every day.
    The infuriating part was the fact that Ms. Picoult's main character was practically incapable of not speaking the truth, yet for 20 hours of listening, no other character (not one!) in the story, not his mother, his lawyer, the police, the prosecution, his doctors, his father... NO ONE asks this person, who is incapable of telling a lie, "Did you kill the victim?" Or, "Do you know who did?" Picoult just ignores this obvious flaw in her story so she can string us along for hours, and hours, and hours and... Well you get the picture.
    If this comes out in an abridged version, I recommend it, but the last seven hours is just more of the same, more of the same, more of the same, more of the same, more of the same, more of the same... It just does not stop! The reader has heard it all before, many times, but she won't stop! It's like she is being paid by the letter, never mind by the word!
    Most writers do this to a greater or lesser extent, but Picoult takes it to an extreme, and you want to scream, "Enough, already! Enough! Please stop it!!!
    It's a good story, with an important message, and while I have listened to some of my favorite books ten to twenty times, I will NEVER listen to this one again. Once was too much.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Pittman Florence, MS 05-24-10
    K. Pittman Florence, MS 05-24-10 Member Since 2010

    Avid Audible Listener

    HELPFUL VOTES
    43
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    "Unsatisfied"

    This book left me, to put it nicely, extreemely frustrated and unsatisfied. I don't understand why an author feels the need to just cut things off without any sort of "ending". The readers were excellent, but Jodi Picoult will not be read by me again. I would only recommend this book to people who are trying to understand what Asperger's Syndrome is, but with a very strong warning, that you will not feel very good about it in the end.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charmaine Alberton, South Africa 03-09-10
    Charmaine Alberton, South Africa 03-09-10 Member Since 2007
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    "Great value for money"

    I love Jodi's books and this one is a winner. She digs deep and describe various individuals emotions beautifully. As always the research is excellent, not just about the topic of Aspenberger but of linked in subjects like forensic crimes and even wolves.
    I could not put the book down.The only comment is that the ending is brief and there are many loose ends , but may be that also represents real life, never neatly tied up.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 11-27-13
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 11-27-13 Member Since 2012
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    "A Worthwhile Listen"

    There is no doubt that Jodi Picoult is a talented author. She writes on such a variety of topics that educate and stimulate. Her books started to lean towards becoming "formulaic" (spelling?). Her themes were of a cntroversial nature and her characters forced you to consider both sides without providing bias either way. I needed to take a break fom her books for awhile because of that. I thought this was going to follow the pattern, but it didn't fully do that.

    The presentation of loving and living wih Asperger's is well balaced. The situation of being involved in a murder case and having to use a defense antithetical to how the mother has raised her son is a little contrived but works in the end. It is contrived by having a police officer showing signs of attraction to the mother and then betraying her trust. In addition, a rookie lawyer is introduced who also is attracted to the mother and seamlessly fits into the family and easily and quickly "gets" how to handle someone with Asperger's. Then throw in the ex-husband (who does not show signs of wanting to get back with his first wife, thank goodness).

    I generally don't care for multiple narrators but it was not as distracting as usual in this book. The voices were not jarringly different from one another. The transitions were smooth and differentiations well done. There was one (and that is one problem with multiple narrators: who knows which one is which) who gave to all the characters such short single syllable (robotic) responses that were only appropriate to Jocob.

    As others have mentioned, the ending was a bit abrupt but not totally awful, in my humble opinion. But my main complaint is that having been rather long winded to build up to the climax, it concluded somewhat suddenly. Even so, I would recommend this read.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Crystal Baker, FL, United States 12-06-12
    Crystal Baker, FL, United States 12-06-12 Member Since 2014
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    "A Tale of Asperger's"
    Where does House Rules rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Near the top.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I was surprised to find that there was a great deal of factual information woven into the storyline.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deb Pace, FL, United States 08-07-12
    Deb Pace, FL, United States 08-07-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Could not take my earbuds off!"
    What made the experience of listening to House Rules the most enjoyable?

    It had a true story feel about it.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of House Rules?

    There were many to recall. Most involved the characters' sense of humor.


    What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

    They used appropriate inflections that befit the feelings of the character. I have yet to listen to an Audible selection that didn't sound authentic. Unlike soooo many that sound read instead of acted.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It was alternately funny, heart wrenching and tense.


    Any additional comments?

    More Jodi Picoult!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 05-29-12 Member Since 2015

    I value intelligent stories with characters I can relate to. I can appreciate good prose, but a captivating plot is way more important.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This booked sucked even before the awful ending."

    This book was a giant waste of time. The ENTIRE plot was based on the fact that literally EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER in the book was too stupid to ask Jacob the obvious question: "What happened?"

    We spend THE ENTIRE BOOK dancing around this, as Jacob's mother, brother, father, lawyer, and therapist all fail to spend just 3 minutes asking the most obvious questions in the world. These are all people who KNOW that Jacob has difficulty communicating-- but rather than helping him to express himself, they are all content to either avoid asking him what happened, or to COMPLETELY stop pursuing the question when Jacob's answers are ambiguous.

    This horrible flaw would not have been forgivable, even if the author had given us a satisfactory resolution in the end. Unfortunately we don't even get that consolation prize, because she doesn't seem to understand the mechanics of her own story. She closes the book with only the subtlest of clues about the fate of our main characters. It is a rushed and sloppy ending that leaves listeners with the impression that she ended the novel about 50 pages too early in order to meet a strict publishing deadline.

    Another factor in the author's terrible ending is that she seems to have only the loosest grasp of the legal situation that she is writing about. She seems oblivious to the fact that just because the truth of the crime is finally revealed to the readers, the legal consequences still completely up in the air. So she's either assuming that revealing the truth will put an end to a prosecution, or she feels that ambiguity is an appropriate end to the story. Neither of which is true.

    This story should not have ended with a "Lady or the Tiger" situation. The novel was not about the court case, it was about the characters, so the fate of characters should have be resolved.

    I listened to this book because the summary gave me the impression that this was a clever novel about a quirky detective in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes or even Monk. It was nothing of the kind.

    Oh, and throughout the book, the author hints that vaccines may have caused Jacob's autism. We know today that those allegations were based on FRAUDULENT "science". In other words- the supposed vaccine-autism connection is ENTIRELY without evidence! Get your kids vaccinated, for their own good, please, and for the good of the community in general.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurie Bellingham, WA, United States 01-26-11
    Laurie Bellingham, WA, United States 01-26-11 Member Since 2015
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    "average"

    Very well read - good voice - liked the changes amongst characters. Story is fairly typical Picoult and I like her books. However, this one definitely dragged on. While very interesting in many places, the trial scene in last third of the book got rather repetitive because we'd already heard so much of the information about the young man and Asbergers. Love story between Emma and lawyer a bit hard to buy. It took me forever to finish this book as I just wasn't compelled to listen every day, and normally I am with a good book. The editor should've deleted more of the redundant information.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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  • Penny
    Compton Martin, United Kingdom
    6/17/11
    Overall
    "The world seen from an Asperger's syndrome boy's"

    point of view is really credibly depicted. The story is also told from the point of view of his mother, brother and some others and its success relies on this contrasting of viewpoints as well as suspense, as we don't know until the end what really happened. There is a little too much lecturing on Asperger's, some of which is repetitive, but don't let this comment put you off. It's still a great read/listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Eleanor
    Elsdon, Northumberland, United Kingdom
    4/16/11
    Overall
    "Excellent narration makes this a winner"

    I hadn't read one of Jodi's books before, although I had noted them years ago. Joining Audible made me think: car journeys, and this was my first download. I think I would not have enjoyed the paperback as much as the audiobook - Jodi's habit of writing each person's contribution as a first-person narrative could have been muddling on paper but here it was stunning. The different voices used to put over the various characters actually made it jump out of the speakers. And the voices are so well chosen. Fabulously dynamic and entertaining as a story, yet with so much serious stuff to think about, woven in at its core. A rare combination, done well. Made my car journeys something to look forward to. Definitely 5 stars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Laurence
    PORTSMOUTH, United Kingdom
    3/29/11
    Overall
    "Atypical Aspergers."

    A brave attempt to get inside a gifted man with Asperger's syndrome. I find it improbable that this syndrome which is characterised by impairment of social skills can create moral blindness as well. I have seen many with Aspergers and moral impairment is never seen- inconsiderate behaviour towards other is common but that is not a moral fault.
    Nice story line which creates tension and the ending is cleverly designed but on the whole a fantasy at the expense of a group of people who are already stigmatised.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amy
    Weymouth, Optional, United Kingdom
    3/27/11
    Overall
    "Totally gripping! An emotional ride throughout."

    A very thought provoking book which kept me gripped throughout, I literally could not put it down until finished!

    Seeing the effect of Jacob's condition of Asperger's on everyone was amazingly insightful being written from their point of view. You could not help but feel desperately sorry for his mother as her frustration and fear for her son manifests throughout the book. The emotions of each character is almost tangible although like others here you want to shout 'For Gods sake ask him if he killed her' when you know that Jacob cannot lie.

    Having 2 teenage boys with Asperger's myself Picault's insight into the syndrome was absolutely perfect. She clearly identifies all of the idiosyncrasies, particularly during the final court case when the specialists describe what it is like to have the condition.

    Beautifully written - an absolute page turner.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nicola
    CoatbridgeUnited Kingdom
    1/18/11
    Overall
    "Fantastic Listen!"

    This book is one of my favourites, Picoult at her very best:heart rending, uplifting and insightful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dawn
    Hemel Hempstead, United Kingdom
    12/24/10
    Overall
    "Spellbinding"

    An amazing story which beautifully describes the difficulties faced by people on the autistic spectrum and their families.
    The level of suspense that Jodi creates makes this unmissable.
    Another thoroughly enjoyable emotional journey.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kirstine
    Bonnyrigg, United Kingdom
    9/14/10
    Overall
    "Wow what a story!"

    I didn't know of this author before listening to this book, but, I'll be seeking out her books from now on. This book is a terrific listen and I couldn't stop returning to as I had to know what happened next. The book is dramatized by using different actors to be the main characters in the story and they do a great job. Not only is there a gripping story as to whether or not Jacob, a sufferer from Asperger's Syndrome, has committed a crime or not, but it's also a heart-rending account how this disorder affects other family members. The author keeps one guessing to the very end about the outcome of the trial: a section of the book which I thought was exceptionally well written and kept me glued to my iPod for hours. The story isn't all about ruined lives and unhappiness as the writer leavens this gruelling tale with witty and ascerbic asides and there's plenty of humour. If you enjoy Lionel Shrivers style of writing, you'll really like this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Annette
    Nouméa, New Caledonia
    7/10/10
    Overall
    "what else would you expect"

    what else would you expect from the masterful Jodi Picoult?
    Her research into the emotions felt by not just the family, but the person who has had to live with or experience the dilemas faced by real people give her characters life.
    I enjoyed this book immensely and recommend that you listen to it too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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