I've been a fan of Ms. Piccoult's for awhile, but nothing really stood out to me like Nineteen Minutes. I was really intrigued to read House Rules because it deals with autism, something I find fascinating since I work daily with children who live with autism and I really would like to get my Master's in it. House Rules gets an A-.
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?
This was a long book, but it really didn't take me long to read it. I was fascinated with the story and would sneak in pages whenever I can. I probably spent too much time blow-drying my hair because of it, but it was worth it. I loved this book, and it now has me dying to check out more fiction books where autism plays a role in the plot. I thought the ending was a bit weak, however, and that left me grading the book an A- instead of an A. I thought the author did an excellent job in explaining autism and how it effects everyone involved. It's obvious Ms. Picoult did her research. I found myself reading passages aloud to my husband so he could get a better understanding of what autism is and what it looks like since I often talk about my autistic students, but he's never had any experience. I would recommend this book to you if you like family dramas, or ever wondered what the story is behind autistic children and adults, for that matter.