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 positionÑon 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”
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 towheadÑor 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 knowÑit 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.
From HOUSE RULES by Jodi Picoult. Copyright © 2010 by Jodi Picoult. Reprinted by permission of Atria Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., NY.
Jodi Picoult’s harrowing and heart-wrenching new novel, House Rules, tells the story of a single mother whose teenaged son is locked in a world where ordinary rules don’t apply…unless you kill someone.
Emma Hunt never complains. Not when she learned that Jacob, her brilliant first child, had Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. And not when her husband, unable to cope, left her while pregnant with Theo, her youngest. Instead, Emma manages. Her job writing an advice column puts food on the table and allows her flexibility should Jacob, now a senior in high school, have one of his terrifying meltdowns. But thankfully, Jacob’s interest in forensic analysis has become an obsession that keeps him focused—maybe too much. When Jacob’s life-skills coach, a lovely young college student, is found murdered and Jacob is questioned, his intimate knowledge of the crime scene compounded by his discomfiting tics and twitches infer guilt, and earn him an indictment for murder.
With her signature sensitivity, Picoult shines a light on what it means to be different in a harsh, judgmental world and the profound effect it has on a troubled family.
Hardcover Book : 512 pages
Publisher: Atria Books ( March 02, 2010 )
Item #: 12-868032
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.82inches
Product Weight: 19.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
While the story was decent enough, though I did figure out the mystery too early, I was constantly put off by the poor portrayal of a person with Asperger's syndrome. Picoult did not do her homework...people with Asperger's do not have the loss of control her character exhibits. This does a huge disservice to the perception of persons with this diagnosis and thereby starts negative ripples into society. It irritated me the whole story through.
i love the way she writes! this book is a great read!
My 1st Picoult book. I respect the quality of research put into this story, character development, and the format. I kept thinking the story was going to get better (so drawn out), but halfway through I'd had enough. Skipped to the end and the conclusion was pretty much as I predicted when Jess went missing. Everyone I know loves Jodi Picoult so I will probably try another of her books later.
I literally just finished this book an hour ago. Excellent read. It kept me interested and on the edge of my seat in some cases. I couldn't wait to get to the end to see what happened!! Highly recommend.