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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

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Charlotte
  • Grants, NM, United States
  • 03-12-10

Great book until the ending

Jodi, What happened! Did you run out of printing ink? What happened to the end of the story? The rest of the story was great. I'm guessing there will be a part two to give it a ending. We don't listen for 20 hours not to have a ending!

50 of 51 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Three Big Problems

1. Surely someone could have asked Jacob what happened? Of course that would have ruined the plot. It was as maddening as a soap opera that no one asked!
2. Although there were parts where I felt the description of Jacob's actions and words fit Aspberger's I felt that other parts did not. Her research may be lacking or she needed to adapt his character to fit the plot.
3. The ending? What ending?
I did hang in there and listen to the entire book, but as many others mentioned I found it repetitious. But that is a small problem compared to the 3 big ones mentioned above.

40 of 42 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Terri
  • Gilroy, CA, USA
  • 04-06-10

Ultimately disappointing.

It was hard to believe how many times the author repeated the same story without really bringing out any new information or perspective... I kept listening waiting for the big reveal that was obvious very early in the story. We finally got it at the very end, WITH NO RESOLUTION. How is it possible that the author decided to skip what actually ends up happening to the characters? I think it was because she couldn't achieve realism and a satisfying ending at the same time.
This story had so much potential; a great hook and some interesting characters, but the plot was very poorly presented and resolved.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Carlos
  • Silver Spring, MD, USA
  • 04-09-10

Hidden Disabilities

House Rules touched me like no other book of its kind. I am a parent of a son with Asperger's Syndrome (AS), diagnosed before it was even acknowledged in the DSM, and too late for him to receiving any appropriate school placement or interventions.

I found Jodi Picoult's book very well-researched and it so aptly portrayed the "little professor" characteristic that makes this a hidden disability to all but the child's closest family members.

While each individual with AS has unique interests and unusually great amount of knowledge of his or her given "obsession," quite often this knowledge results in the lack of awareness of the child's difficulties among teachers and others. It can also mask their underdeveloped ability to socialize with peers, because they can so readily speak (or preach) to adults. Individuals with AS are frequently friendless, and become the unfortunate prey of unforgiving schoolmates, and the inevitable target of bullying. Their communication problems can get them into difficulties with the law and other authorities, as the story betrays.

Inevitably, adolescents with AS gain an awareness of their friendless-state, and they suffer from depression and some even commit suicide.

I hope this intriguing book helps families identify loved-ones with autistic-spectrum disorders, and that it will lead them to seek the help of a developmental pediatrician and early intervention services.

Thank you Jodi for shining a light on Asperger's.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

repetition is too much

I usually hate abridged books so making a recommendation to abridge a book is a hard one for me. However, I found that this book spent too much time reworking subplots that had already been told. The writing was engaging enough to continue to listen but I found myself hitting the fast forward but button on occasion. A good listen while hanging out in the garden, walking or driving but definitely not a page turner.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Ultimately disappointed

This book was more like a first novel than that of an accomplished author. It seems that me that Ms. Picoult couldn't get it all together. The book has great character development but very little plot development. I solved the 'murder' early on and waited for some surprise or twist but it never came. The ending was VERY abrupt and disappointing. If not for the general quality of the story (prior to the ending) and the gift of character development I would have rated the book much lower. I would only recommend this book to someone interested in learning about autism because that is the only thing I really gained from it.

33 of 36 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Vicki
  • Suwanee, GA, United States
  • 06-18-10

That's 20 hours of my life I'll never get back

I can't understand all the rave reviews. This was the most tedious audio I have ever purchased from Audible. The only reason I hung onto it was hoping that the ending would have some twist instead of the obvious ending that I figured out very early on. One of the most frustrating books I have experienced waiting for something unexpected to happen which never did. One of the most frustrating things was the way the author used numbered lists over and over to illustrate points-frustrating part was that the main character expressed an extreme aversion to anything with even numbers but over and over again these lists were 4, 6, 8 and so on in number and what made it more frustrating that the character counted out each list by saying 1 blah, blah blah, 2 blah, blah blah and so sometimes up to 12 or 14. This is the only book I have purchased in 5 years that I wish I could get a refund for. I'd give it zero if I could. Kept waiting for someone to ask the main character the most obvious question which no one ever did.

31 of 34 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Richard
  • Huntsville, TX, United States
  • 03-08-10

I can only tell the truth-I could not put it down!

I have worked as a child psychologist for 45 years. During my semi- retirement I've listened to 100s of books from This was one of the best. The author wove a very plausible plot associated with the challenges of a son with Asperger's Syndrome. The clinical picture was spot on. I am a little embarrased to admit to twelve hours of straight listening. I do have a life(lol). I was just awed by the story and the wonderful portrayal of the effects of this disorder on the family and the school mileau. The book had great passion, humor and truth! Kudos to Audible but most of all to Jodi Picoult. No one could write such a book without a first hand experience with an Aspi. I will recommend it to all the Special Ed teachers, diagnosticians, and legal professionals I know.

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

dissapointing ending

For the length of the book the ending was left short & undone. I figured out what happened long before the ending, but I was left frustrated with the lack of closure & details, especially after hours of details leading up to it. The language could have been a little cleaner as well. It's a struggle to find books that I will enjoy on a long drive, but not give my kids and early education on foul language.

20 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Deb
  • Omaha, NE, USA
  • 06-22-10


Jodi used to be one of my favorite authors. Now, it seems that all of her characters are becoming interchangeable from one book to the next. The ending of this book is so predictable...I had it figured out immediately.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Christine
  • 05-08-10

Another excellent Jodi Picoult!

As ever, this Jodi Picoult latest did not disappoint. It's the first time I have had an audio version of one of her novels, and it suited this one perfectly, clearly demonstrating the deadpan, robotic voice of Jacob the son with Asperger's and how his answers to the interrogations could be so misinterpreted. I became truly immersed in the family life and the quandaries and considerations of this complex case, if a little frustrated at the fact that it took a long time for anyone to ask a character, whose condition prevents him from lying, the truth of the matter. For once, I managed to guess the 'twist' at the end long before it came to it, but, having become so involved with the characters, was relieved by the conclusion, if saddened, as always, that such a good read had to come to an end!

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • reedandponder
  • 10-07-10

Great listen, good insight and gripping story.

I really enjoyed listening to this book. I trained as a Social Worker and have in the past tried to help young people with Asperger's Syndrome move to live independently and find work and training and I have worked with young people within the criminal justice system. So it was the subject matter that drew me in.

I had never read/listened to a Jodi Picoult novel before and I am still not sure of her genre or who her readership really is but standing alone, this book was a gripping listen. It is told with great insight and from the different character's opinions, so you get to know each character very well. It highlights the way that the legal system can be unfair with young people with disabilities, in this case with Aspergers and lightly raises the question of disability being due to society's intolerance rather than a person's lack of ability. The book is great at bringing out emotion and intersperses humour to balance the trials of life.

There is one overall flaw with the story which is why nobody has the ability to ask the main character the truth when Asperger's doesn't permit him to lie. You find yourself wanting to scream 'just ask him' as you listen, which I think concurs with another review on this site. I also found the ending a little sudden without much conclusion, but without enough open ended questions to lead into a need for discussion with other readers, so somewhat frustrating. But don't let that put you off listening to it. In summary, it is well read whodunnit with an insightful twist and well worth the listen.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Alison
  • 06-19-10

Great Audiobook

Wow. This is one of the best books I've listened to. The narrators are fantastic and I have to really praise the way they expressed the characters Autism through their voices. The story is very good and leads you to care about all the characters. Even though the crime was easy to work out you will find yourself pleading for the truth to come out. I recommend this for people who like forensics, trial stories and also psychological stories.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Des
  • 10-06-10

gripping drama - great education

Among many other things I am a trainer within the healthcare industry. While my interests are quite diverse I am always interested in ways the normal world can better understand those 'other' conditions that pepper our society and are generally little understood.

House Rules is a book that does just that. You remember the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime, well house rules extends that idea of the rest of us learning about conditions through dramatic stories.

In this storey the realities of Aspergers Syndrome are narated form several different perspectives. From outsiders with no understanding of the character, Jacob, to the family members mother, father, sibling. As I listened to the audio version of this from I gained a real advantage as the different characters were read by different narrators. This was not a dramatisation - the book was narrated but as large sections are read by the person whose perspective we are seeing this meant that I fully believe an audio version is the best way to go.

No picking up the book and not remembering who was this perspective from. As all characters may say 'Jacob said' it would be important to the story to know who is relating that, something I could not have guaranteed for me if I was reading it.

While I have a reasonable understanding of Aspergers Syndrome both professionally and personally it was superb, for example, to hear Jacob's brother describe their life pressures from the first person.

It all works around Jacob being charged with murder giving the book a real grounding in a gripping story that holds you to the end even though it follows in a predictable direction. Damn good listen.

rest at

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Pamela
  • 10-02-10


I have never listened to Jodi Picoult before but her book transforms into and audiobook beautifully. The characters have depth and from the outset you are actively involved in their lives and problems. Well narrated and written.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Denise
  • 10-02-12

Tedious with predictable ending

I had heard such good reviews of Jodi Picoult's books and this subject matter interested me so I was very disappointed not to enjoy this book more. Whilst her description of the traits of an autistic child were informative, the continuous repetition of these made for tedious listening. The storyline was good, but far too drawn out and the ending entirely predictable. I won't be buying any more Jodi Picoult books.

  • Overall
  • 09-10-11

An insight into a literal mindset

This was my first Jodi Picoult and I chose it because of the subject matter. I was especially interested in this after I saw the author interviewed about the book, she detailed the extensive research she did before attempting to create the main character. She captures the realities of motherhood and the character of teenage boys incredibly well. The plot was good but not entirely unpredictable. However, I don't think this was intended to be all about plot, any reader who doesn't know much about autism would enrich their understanding of the diversity of people by hearing/reading this novel.

  • Overall
  • Sue
  • 08-19-11

Pleasantly surprised!

You know sometimes that you never pick up a book by a particular author because you just instinctively think you wont like their work? Well, I have felt that about Jodi Picoult. I only took interest in House Rules because I work with autistic people. I decided to listen to House Rules and really enjoyed it. Maybe I guessed fairly early on where it was leading but the journey was still very satisfying! Will definately keep more of an open mind infuture!

  • Overall
  • Karen
  • 06-24-11

Fascinating and sad insight

Amazing, empathetic story of autistic percpetions and expectation. Enjoyed this as a story, but also as an education into another aspect of modern life. Recommended as a good story, but with hints of real life experience.

  • Overall
  • Penny
  • 06-17-11

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.

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  • Julie
  • 10-19-16


If you have anything to do with education, social justice or law enforcement I suggest you read this book. A very human approach that describes the Autism spectrum and the realities of living with ASD.