House Rules by Jodi Picoult – Book Review

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

Emma’s son Jacob is obsessed with forensic science. He likes to stage fake crime scenes at their house, and fingerprint household items in his homemade lab. Jacob also has Aspergers Syndrome, so he doesn’t interact with the rest of the world in the same way that most teenage boys would. This becomes a real problem with Jacob’s social skills tutor, Jess, goes missing and is eventually discovered dead. Suddenly the way Jacob interacts makes him look suspicious, even guilty. When he is charged with her murder, will his Aspergers hinder him in trying to stage his defense?

I’ve had a lot of trouble with Picoult’s books lately. I used to really like her work, but then I think I burned out on her. I was sick of the emotional manipulation, and I was sick of the formula with the BIG TWIST at the end. Her most recent book I read, “Change of Heartreally disappointed me. With all of this in mind, I was somewhat reticent to pick up “House Rules.” After all, it is a big book at over 500 pages. I know that Picoult’s books are quick reads, but if was still not enjoying her work, that might be an annoying 500+ pages.

Luckily, I actually really enjoyed “House Rules!” I did not think it was as emotionally manipulative as much of Picoult’s work and not quite as formulaic, either. Instead, I thought Picoult did a fabulous job getting into the head of a teenager with Aspergers and giving insight into the life of a single mother trying to figure out how to do her best for her two sons, one of whom had special needs. The only thing that sort of annoyed me was Emma’s assertions that Jacob’s Aspergers was caused by his vaccinations, almost in the same breathe as admitting that autism rates continue to rise even after mercury has been removed from vaccinations. At least she didn’t go so far as being anti-vaccination.

Although this isn’t my favorite of Picoult’s books (those would be “My Sister’s Keeper” and “Keeping Faith”), I did enjoy it more than much of her work I’ve read recently.

Buy this book from:

Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound
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Amazon
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This review was done with a book received from the publisher for the SheKnows.com Book Club..
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18 comments to House Rules by Jodi Picoult – Book Review

  • I didn’t love this one. It was just okay for me. Definitely not one of my favorites. I still have to write my review. I’m trying to put my head around what I didn’t love.

  • I haven’t read this one yet — actually I haven’t read any of her books. The premises never attract me and I don’t like being manipulated. Because I own this one, I’ll likely read it.

  • I’ve read My Sister’s Keeper, but not any of Picoult’s other works. I pick them up, but never actually buy them. I’m very intrigued by this one– maybe I will actually read it.

  • Having heard My Sister’s Keeper was one of her best books, I just barely finished it a couple of days ago. I still found it exactly like her other books and was disappointed. I am curious about the autism storyline in this book but I don’t know if it’s enough to get me to pick it up.

    • I think that “My Sister’s Keeper” was the first of her books that really got a lot of attention, so it was the first one most people read; because of that, people didn’t know about her formula when they read it and liked it.

  • DW

    I’ve only read Nineteen Minutes by her, but this book sounds pretty interesting. I’ve been debating what book I should pick up next by her, but I might go with My Sister’s Keeper instead of this one since 500 pages is a little daunting for me.

  • I really disliked Handle With Care, her last book, so I wasn’t eager to read another one. I’ve read quite a few good reviews of this one, so I’m looking forward to it. Keeping Faith is my favorite novel of hers too!

  • I’ve only read 3 Picoult books. I loved The Pact—the first one I read before I knew who she was and that she had a whole slew of similar novels. Then I read The Tenth Circle which was ok and just got me through a plane ride. Then I read My Sister’s Keeper. And after throwing that book across the room, I vowed to never read her again. Her books are well-researched so I finish them feeling like I learned something and I like that she deals with the grey areas of a situation…but I hate the twist that is so formulaic, it’s become predictable.

    • I think the reason I loved “My Sister’s Keeper” is that it was the first Picoult book I read, I didn’t know about her formula yet, so it seemed fresh to me.

  • I was a big reader of her books for awhile too, before I began blogging. But then after awhile, I just got tired of being tired after finishing her books. They wrung me out, and I knew that was her intent. I DO have a couple of friends whose kids have Asperger-like symptoms (but not officially diagnosed) so I do have some interest. I’m thinking audio maybe.

  • I haven’t read any of Picoult’s work in a while, but have enjoyed the ones I’ve read. I’ve avoided her last few books because the reviews I read weren’t great – glad to see this one is better.

  • Jen-Girls Gone Reading

    I agree with you about her style. I just finished Vanishing Acts, which was good, but I couldn’t finish Change of Heart either. I was curious about House Rules, so thanks for the honest review. The vaccine issue is annoying. There was a great piece on Frontline recently about vaccines, the risks, and the effects of people not getting vaccinated. It is a controversial topic, but the scientists in the piece were really convincing.

  • Just knowing that you enjoyed it much more than some of her newer works gives me hope that I will enjoy this one too when I finally get it from my library!

  • I haven’t read this yet but I am glad that she is bringing attention to the autism-vaccine connection. This is a controversial topic but one that is important to research both sides before coming to a conclusion.

  • I really like her books, but I can definitely see what you mean by it getting annoying after a while. I don’t think I could read five of her books in a row or anything.

    I’m 150 pages into this book and liking it thus far. I feel emotionally connected because my brothers has a mild case of Aspergers and we just barely put a name to it.

    If you haven’t yet, you should read Nineteen Seconds. It’s one of my favorites by her.

  • Picoult can be hit or miss for me for exactly the reasons you mention, but I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this one.

  • I really appreciate your honesty! Your review really caught my eye because in the google search results, “I’ve had a lot of trouble with Picoult’s books lately” was the main tagline under website names, lol! I figured your review would be interesting.

    I decided to comment because I also found your vaccination comment interesting. When I wrote notes on this book while reading it, my notes verbatim were, “I love all Picoult’s facts on vaccinations in relation to autism and Asperger’s. I follow some of the same methods in regards to vaccinations.” I actually follow the holistic doctoring route; all organic, all natural, and my kid never gets sick. Vaccinations are poisonous in our home! Anyways, I like your website, and loved your honesty in this review.

    Happy reading!

    My own review: http://www.dreamworldbooks.com/2011/02/house-rules-by-jodi-picoult.html

  • I’ve just finished this book and wanted to let you know that I agree with your thoughts on the vaccinations – that bit really annoyed me too!