Jodi Picoult is an amazing author and "House Rules" is a fantastic book!!!
We've seen more on Asperger's Syndrome lately - several movies have been released in the last year featuring the syndrome and NBC's "Parenthood" (love this show) also features an 8-year-old character with Asperger's.
"House Rules" is about 18-year-old Jacob Hunt who has Asperger's, his family and what living with the syndrome is like for all of them. He attends a public high school and functions pretty well, but he does have quirks and there are triggers that set him off that have to be addressed constantly. He is obsessed with and, frankly, a genius when it comes to forensic science, loves crime scenes and watching Crime Busters.
During the murder investigation of a girl that Jacob knows well, it appears that he may be involved and things go from bad to worse quickly in this riveting story. I literally could not put this book down at times.
Here are a few excerpts ...
I know what love is. When you find the person you are supposed to love, bells ring and fireworks go off in your head and you can't find words to speak and you think about her all the time. When you find the person you are supposed to love, you will know by staring deeply into her eyes.
Well, that's a deal breaker for me.
It is hard for me to explain why it is so difficult to look into people's eyes. Imagine what it would be like if someone sliced your chest with a scalpel and rummaged around inside you, squeezing your heart and lungs and kidneys. That level of complete invasion is what it feels like when I make eye contact. The reason I choose not to look at people is that I don't think it's polite to rifle through someone's thoughts, and the eyes might as well be glass windows, they're that transparent.
- - - - - - - - - -
My mother has shaken her head. "Here's what I miss, Jacob. I miss the fact that I won't get to ever hear his voice again. And that I can't talk to him anymore."
This wasn't really true. We had Grandpa's voice immortalized on old family videos that I sometimes like to watch when I couldn't sleep at night. And it wasn't that she couldn't talk to him that was hard for her to accept; it was that he could no longer talk back.
My mother had sighed. "You'll get it, one day, I hope."
I would like to be able to tell her that, yes, now I get it. When someone dies, it feels like the hole in your gum when a tooth falls out. You can chew, you can eat, you have plenty of other teeth, but your tongue keeps going back to that empty place where all the nerves are still a little raw.
- - - - - - - - - -
I know why; it is because Theo was only a few months old when my father left. I don't remember that day, but I do remember a lot leading up to it. My mother and father often fought right in front of me. I was there, but I wasn't there - those were the days when I would find myself completely entranced by the static on the television screen or the lever of the toaster. My parents assumed that I was not paying attention, but that isn't the way it works. I could hear and see and smell and feel everything at once back then, which is why I had to focus so hard to pay attention to only one of the stimuli. I've always sort of pictured it like a movie: imagine a camera that can record the entire world at once - every sight, every sound. That's very impressive, but it isn't particularly useful if you want to specifically hear a conversation between two people, or see a ball coming toward you while you're standing at bat. And yet, I couldn't change the brain I'd been born with, so instead I learned how to narrow the world with makeshift blinders, until all I noticed was what I wanted to notice. That's autism, for those who've never been there themselves.
The research and level of detail that goes into Jodi Picoult's stories is so incredibly good! I would highly recommend this book.