Wednesday, March 16, 2011

House Rules (Jodi Piccoult)

I feel like I say this every time I read a Piccoult book : I think I'm kind of disillusioned by her. Yet, I keep coming back.


This book was particularly promising. As per usual she chose a contemporary topic (autism) and tossed it into a legal setting. The characters while familiar (a distressed family) were unique enough that I was excited to be reading it. Additionally, I honestly had never thought about the difficulties that autistic children (or adults) might face in a legal setting. The many accommodations that allow them to survive in other environments would be largely absent.

And yet? There were so many moments that felt too contrived to be real - the convenient history of violence displayed by Jacob, despite the repeated assurances throughout the book that autistic people in general are not violent. This was especially troubling because the attempted assault on a classmate (which seemed pretty violent, honestly) was not reconciled with the remainder of what Jacob's family and attorney thought of him. And as per usual, too many wild consequences to be believable.

I also really did not understand the role of the father here. The scene where we determine that he has autistic traits and the hint that it could be genetic was fine. But I really did not understand his presence at the end of the book at all. I also thought the ending was rushed, even more so than usual.

In the end the discussions of autism were interesting, and as per usual, I enjoyed the shifting perspectives. I also enjoyed the courtroom drama and as usual, I was strangely sucked in and read the book very quickly. Or as Jacob might say, "She had me at hello."


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