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House Rules

Cover of House Rules

House Rules

A Novel
The astonishing novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult about a young boy with autism falsely accused of murder.
When your son can't look you in the eye...does that mean he's guilty?

Jacob Hunt is a teen with Asperger's syndrome. He's hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, though he is brilliant in many ways. But he has a special focus on one subject—forensic analysis. A police scanner in his room clues him in to crime scenes, and he's always showing up and telling the cops what to do. And he's usually right.

But when Jacob's small hometown is rocked by a terrible murder, law enforcement comes to him. Jacob's behaviors are hallmark Asperger's, but they look a lot like guilt to the local police. Suddenly the Hunt family, who only want to fit in, are directly in the spotlight. For Jacob's 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 why nothing is normal because of Jacob.

And over this small family, the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?
The astonishing novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult about a young boy with autism falsely accused of murder.
When your son can't look you in the eye...does that mean he's guilty?

Jacob Hunt is a teen with Asperger's syndrome. He's hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, though he is brilliant in many ways. But he has a special focus on one subject—forensic analysis. A police scanner in his room clues him in to crime scenes, and he's always showing up and telling the cops what to do. And he's usually right.

But when Jacob's small hometown is rocked by a terrible murder, law enforcement comes to him. Jacob's behaviors are hallmark Asperger's, but they look a lot like guilt to the local police. Suddenly the Hunt family, who only want to fit in, are directly in the spotlight. For Jacob's 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 why nothing is normal because of Jacob.

And over this small family, the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?
Available formats-
  • Kindle Book
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
Subjects-
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    0
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    5.8
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:
    4

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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    Emma

    Everywhere I look, there are signs of a struggle. The mail has been scattered all over the kitchen floor; the stools are overturned. The phone has been knocked off its pedestal, its battery pack hanging loose from an umbilicus of wires. There?s one single faint footprint at the threshold of the living room, pointing toward the dead body of my son, Jacob.

    He is sprawled like a starfish in front of the fireplace. Blood covers his temple and his hands. For a moment, I can?t move, can?t breathe.

    Suddenly, he sits up. ?Mom,? Jacob says, ?you?re not even trying.?

    This is not real, I remind myself, and I watch him lie back down in the exact same position?on his back, his legs twisted to the left.

    ?Um, there was a fight,? I say.

    Jacob?s mouth barely moves. ?And . . . ??

    ?You were hit in the head.? I get down on my knees, like he?s told me to do a hundred times, and notice the crystal clock that usually sits on the mantel now peeking out from beneath the couch. I gingerly pick it up and see blood on the corner. With my pinkie, I touch the liquid and then taste it.

    ?Oh, Jacob, don?t tell me you used up all my corn syrup again??

    ?Mom! Focus!?

    I sink down on the couch, cradling the clock in my hands. ?Robbers came in, and you fought them off.? Jacob sits up and sighs. The food dye and corn syrup mixture has matted his dark hair; his eyes are shining, even though they won?t meet mine. ?Do you honestly believe I?d execute the same crime scene twice??

    He unfolds a fist, and for the first time I see a tuft of corn silk hair. Jacob?s father is a towhead?or at least he was when he walked out on us fifteen years ago, leaving me with Jacob and Theo, his brand-new, blond baby brother.

    ?Theo killed you??

    ?Seriously, Mom, a kindergartner could have solved this case,? Jacob says, jumping to his feet. Fake blood drips down the side of his face, but he doesn?t notice; when he is intensely focused on crime scene analysis,

    I think a nuclear bomb could detonate beside him and he?d never flinch.

    He walks toward the footprint at the edge of the carpet and points. Now, at second glance, I notice the waffle tread of the Vans skateboarding sneakers that Theo saved up to buy for months, and the latter half of the company logo?NS?burned into the rubber sole. ?There was a confrontation in the kitchen,? Jacob explains. ?It ended with the phone being thrown in defense, and me being chased into the living room, where Theo clocked me.?

    At that, I have to smile a little. ?Where did you hear that term??

    ?CrimeBusters, episode forty-three.?

    ?Well, just so you know?it means to punch someone. Not hit them with an actual clock.?

    Jacob blinks at me, expressionless. He lives in a literal world; it?s one of the hallmarks of his diagnosis. Years ago, when we were moving to Vermont, he asked what it was like. Lots of green, I said, and rolling hills.

    At that, he burst into tears. Won?t they hurt us? he said.

    ?But what?s the motive?? I ask, and on cue, Theo thunders down the stairs.

    ?Where?s the freak?? he yells.

    ?Theo, you will not call your brother??

    ?How about I stop calling him a freak when he stops stealing things out of my room?? I have instinctively stepped between him and his brother, although Jacob is a head taller than both of us.

    ?I didn?t steal anything from your room,? Jacob says.

    ?Oh, really? What about my sneakers??

    ?They were in the mudroom,? Jacob qualifies.

    ?Retard,? Theo says under his breath, and I see...

About the Author-
  • Jodi Picoult received an AB in creative writing from Princeton and a master's degree in education from Harvard. The recipient of the 2003 New England Book Award for her entire body of work, she is the author of twenty-one novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers House Rules, Handle With Care, Change of Heart, and My Sister's Keeper, for which she received the American Library Association's Margaret Alexander Edwards Award. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children. Visit her website at JodiPicoult.com.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 21, 2009
    Perennial bestseller Picoult (Handle with Care
    ) has a rough time in this Picoult-esque blend of medical and courtroom drama that lacks her usual storytelling finesse. Eighteen-year old Jacob Hunt has Asperger's syndrome, and his devoted single mother, Emma, has built their family's life around Jacob's needs, sacrificing her career to act as his caregiver and all but ignoring a younger son, Theo. But when Jacob is accused of murder, that carefully crafted life comes apart, and all of the hallmarks of Jacob's diagnosis begin to make him look guilty. Emma hires a young attorney whose attachment to Jacob brings him close to the family as he struggles to mount a defense for Jacob, whose inability to read social cues makes him less than an ideal client. While Picoult's research is impeccable and she deals intelligently with charged questions about autism and Asperger's, the whodunit is stretched sitcom-thin and handled poorly, with characters withholding information from the reader throughout. Picoult's writing, line by line, is as smooth as ever, and she does a great job of getting into Jacob's head, but the wobbly plotting is a massive detriment.

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    Atria Books
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A Novel
Jodi Picoult
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