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House Rules: A Novel - Kindle edition by Jodi Picoult. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Send a free sample. Read "House Rules A Novel" by Jodi Picoult available from Rakuten Kobo. Sign up today and get $5 off your first purchase. From the #1 New York Times. House Rules looks at what it means to be different in our society, how autism affects This is not real, I remind myself, and I watch him lie back down in the exact . up before eleven o'clock, because that's when the Free Sample Lady sets up.


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Picoult writes with unassuming brilliance.' - Stephen King'Picoult has become a master - almost a clairvoyant - at targeting hot issu Click here. cover image of House Rules. Read A Sample. House Rules. by Jodi Picoult. ebook. Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-two novels, including the #1 New York Times Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, Nineteen. May 6, House Rules: A Novel Download at BG08QM. bestselling author Jodi Picoult about a young boy with autism falsely accused of murder.

He has a special focus on one subject—forensic analysis. Suddenly the Hunt family, who only want to fit in, are thrust directly in the spotlight. And for the frightened small town, the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder? Get a FREE e-book by joining our mailing list today! Plus, receive recommendations for your next Book Club read.

I'm no Asperger's expert, but I thought that the book worked on many different levels at portraying not only the thought processes and behaviors of one who has it, but also of everyone that is affected by it. I felt that Picoult did her homework, and that she presented the traits, and possible causality, fairly and honestly. There are perspectives on whether heredity, or immunizations, or just randomness cause autism to develop, and I liked and appreciated that it was not treated as an excuse to demonize vaccines.

I particularly empathized with Emma and Theo. Their perspectives were so raw and honest that I couldn't help but love them for it. Emma's raised two sons on her own for 15 years - something that is hard enough without throwing autism into the mix. Her whole life has centered around it. She's done everything in her power to give him the best life she can, and if she suffers for it, that's just part of the job.

There were points in Theo's chapters where he'd be thinking something that an outsider would think is horrible, and even berating himself for it, and I would just sit there commending him for the things he didn't say. For example: What if my own son winds up being like Jacob? He'd stick it out, not leave like his own father did.

He'd try to do the right thing, even if he doubts his abilities to do it. It makes me proud of him, and sad for him, at the same time. Because he's lived on the sidelines of autism for his whole life already. His childhood was constantly colored by the routines and the contingencies and the chaos of his brother's condition. To never have "normality" would have to be a terrifying, daunting thought. All the clues were there, and it wasn't hard to figure out.

But I was still interested to see if I was right, or if there would be some twist, other than the one I predicted, to shock me. I kept being a little frustrated with the investigation too. This kid is extremely literal, and extremely honest.

Why did nobody think to just ask him directly? I guess I understand why, honestly, but it was still kind of frustrating.

And so for that, I knocked off a star. But the rest of the story, the personal and familial aspects, were fantastic. I loved it. Overall, this was a highly enjoyable book, and I will probably be picking up more of Picoult's books now that I know they aren't likely to be tapped for maple syrup anytime soon.

View all 19 comments. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. While I enjoy Picoult's easy flow of writing and the creative way she informs the reader about issues and conditions like Asperger's syndrome, in this case, I found myself in constant "oh, come on" mode, as in: Spoiler alert - "Talk to your son, for crying out loud!

You know he can only tell the truth and once he tells you he didn't kill her, why wouldn't you ask for more details? He's on trial for murder! Once you know that he knows you were there, why wo Disappointing. Once you know that he knows you were there, why wouldn't you ask him what else he knows and what he saw?

Then, all of a sudden, everything gets wrapped up in a neat little bow in the last 5 minutes, 15 seconds of the book the audio version, anyway. Jacob really can care about others. View all 24 comments. Jan 03, Meghan rated it did not like it Shelves: I would chalk it up to a mindless, predictable read best left for the times a reader is stuck in an airport, except it is so incredibly long that the reader will have the "mystery" solved and be left to slog through more pages.

Much too long for a reluctant reader and too boring and predictable for an in "House Rules" bills itself as a murder mystery with an Asperger's twist, but Picoult brings nothing original to either the mystery genre or books featuring characters on the Autism spectrum. Much too long for a reluctant reader and too boring and predictable for an intelligent one.

View all 5 comments. Mar 27, Nicola Mansfield rated it it was ok. As a person with Asperger's I am dismayed with Picoult's portrayal of an adult with Asperger's Syndrome. Picoult starts off by showing us all the sources she has used for her research but once one starts reading it is obvious she is so full of research she doesn't know what to do with it.

She has taken every possible symptom of both Asperger's and autism which are two different diagnoses and put them all into the character of Jacob. Not only is Jacob loaded down with every single symptom, each As a person with Asperger's I am dismayed with Picoult's portrayal of an adult with Asperger's Syndrome. Not only is Jacob loaded down with every single symptom, each of his symptoms are of the most extreme variety.

A real-life 'aspie' as we call ourselves will have some, perhaps even many, but certainly not all textbook examples, of the symptoms and then they are at varying degrees. What Picoult has done here is a disservice to the Asperger's community. From the mother: Asperger's is not a disease or an illness! There is no cure because one is not needed. Just from reading the positive reviews of this book I see the word "illness" being used over and over to describe Asperger's and that is because the book has left readers unfamiliar with AS with that impression.

I could sit here and write an essay refuting all the quotes on the dog-eared pages I created while reading, but I won't. The main character is 17 years old and is very comparable to Jacob only the author has done an excellent job in portraying Asperger's, showing the struggles we face but also shows that we do indeed function and do not need anyone's sympathy. BTW, I did give the book 2 stars because if I removed the whole Asperger's element I thought the mystery was quite interesting with a fun little twist to the solution.

View all 18 comments. Aug 24, Lormac rated it did not like it. Jodi Picoult is far from my favorite author, so all you Picoultites out there, you might as well skip this review. I am interested in stories about people on the autistic spectrum with Asperger behaviors, so I thought I would give this one a try. I should have known better.

In Ms. Picoult's heavy-handed hands, the behavior of the protagonist with Aspergers is exaggerated and twisted simply for the benefit of the plot. Eating only foods of a certain color, but on different days, is not trad Jodi Picoult is far from my favorite author, so all you Picoultites out there, you might as well skip this review. Eating only foods of a certain color, but on different days, is not traditionally Aspergerian - maybe eating foods of the same color - but not blue food on Tuesday, yellow on Saturday, etc.

At one point, the protagonist re-orders some CDs that have fallen in alphabetical order, but children with Aspergers do not usually have a need to order everything they come across - if they have never seen it before and it is not within their area of fixation, they are more likely not to notice the disorder, or if they notice it, to ignore it.

But because this is a plot point, suddenly it becomes a symptom of Aspergers. Further I have never read anywhere that Aspergers is a genetic disorder - but in this novel there is a clear implication that this is the case.

And then we have the usual stuff that drives me absolutely CRAZY which is having the characters behave in ways that no one else in the world would do. For example, imagine yourself a mother with a son who has Aspergers and is on trial for murder, and that child has meltdowns whenever things go out of his routine so he is now regularly having meltdowns due to the pressure of the trial. Now imagine it is three a.

Would you leave your son, run yes, you heard me - run across town to the office of your son's lawyer who has never shown an overt sexual interest in you, and have sex with him? Somehow I think most of us would be trying to get a good night's sleep, not catch pneumonia, and maintain a professional relationship with this man. That is why we will never be Picoult characters. Now, imagine yourself the defense attorney,and you have just heard at least three witnesses explain how Asperger children answer questions extremely literally such as tossing a tent at you if you asked them to 'pitch a tent'.

Do you think that you would ask your client a question like "Were you sorry you killed the girl? Remind me not to try Picoult again. View all 11 comments. Emotionally powerful and charged with enough tension your nerves will buzz! Asperger syndrome AS is a developmental disorder. It is an autism spectrum disorder ASD , one of a distinct group of neurological conditions characterized by a greater or lesser degree of impairment in language and communication skills, as well as repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavi Amazing!

It is an autism spectrum disorder ASD , one of a distinct group of neurological conditions characterized by a greater or lesser degree of impairment in language and communication skills, as well as repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavior. Children with AS want to know everything about their topic of interest and their conversations with others will be about little else.

Their expertise, high level of vocabulary, and formal speech patterns make them seem like little professors. Other characteristics of AS include repetitive routines or rituals; peculiarities in speech and language; socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior and the inability to interact successfully with peers; problems with non-verbal communication; and clumsy and uncoordinated motor movements.

Emma When the boy's were little, we had house rules. I'd write them on the bathroom mirror when they were in the tub so that the next time the room steamed up, they would magically appear: Clean up your own messes. Tell the truth. Brush your teeth twice a day. Don't be late for school.

Take care of your brother; he's the only one you've got. One night Jacob had asked me if I had to follow the rules, too, and I said yes. But, he pointed out, you don't have a brother. Then I will take care of you, I said. However, I didn't. Oliver will stand up in court today, and maybe the next day and the next, and try to accomplish what I have unsuccessfully tried to do for eighteen years now: Make them feel sympathy for a child who cannot feel it himself. When Theo's done in the bathroom, I go in.

The air is still thick with heat and steam; the mirror's fogged. I can't see the tears on my face, but it's for the best. Because I may know my son, and I may believe viscerally that he is not a murderer. But the odds of a jury seeing this as clearly as I do are minimal. Because no matter what I tell Henry—or myself, for that matter—I know that Jacob isn't coming home.

Emma has no life of her own as every minute of every day is eaten up by the needs of her son, Jacob, who has Asperger's syndrome. Brother, Theo, is essentially lost in the shuffle, always in the shadow of Jacob's needs, barely a blip on his mother's radar. Their father, Henry, left them shortly after Jacob's diagnosis. Jacob's struggles with AS is expertly portrayed and to say that I learned a lot about the disability is an understatement!

I found it particularly interesting to discover that one of the symptoms of AS is a heightened sensitivity to touch, like Jacob's description about having to remove tags from clothing and how uncomfortable buttons on shirts are. I actually understand that quite well as my fibromyalgia causes the same thing.

It's the reason that I'm most comfortable in soft baggy pajamas that don't rub against my skin as much as fitted clothing does. There are worse things in life!

It gave me a fascinating, up close and personal view into just how difficult it is to raise a child with AS, no less as a single parent. Then there is the profound impact it has on a sibling. It's not hard to imagine just how lost and unnoticed they must feel, with the exception of being laughed at or left out when it comes to making friends.

The emotional toll it takes is nothing short of profound. As a lover of forensics I was somewhat able to enjoy Jacob's obsessive intrest in forensic criminology.

When Jacob is charged with the murder of his social skills tudor, Jess, the sense of apprehension and suspense continues to escalate. By the time the trial began my heart was in my throat and my nerves were on high alert! I could not put this book down! I was so absorbed in the story that I barely noticed turning the pages, even though it's a page novel! I simply couldn't put it down! I've read Handle with Care which I really enjoyed, especially because I'm a pediatric nurse and have taken care of a baby with osteogenesis imperfecta or brittle bone disease.

I'm looking forward to reading more of Jodi's books, including Small Great Things. Aug 03, Carolyn Gerk rated it it was ok. I don't know why I do this to myself. I picked this book up because someone who read it and didn't want to keep it gave it away thus, it was free. I wanted to read something that would be a breeze I have read Picoult before and find her writing style easy to fly through. However, having read Picoult before, I should have remembered that she keeps writing the same damn book!

Yes, family in crisis, insert court case, insert forgotten sibling with bigger problems than others realize, insert one I don't know why I do this to myself.

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Yes, family in crisis, insert court case, insert forgotten sibling with bigger problems than others realize, insert one sibling taking the fall for another, insert catty lawyer with dog Hey, is this My Sister's Keeper or what? Anyway, it took about twenty minutes to figure out what had happened in this murder 'mystery', but I kept fooling myself thinking that there must be some twist I didn't expect.

And, after so very many descriptions of Asperger's traits, including the fact that the main character, an 'Aspie' needs to be spoken to very directly and literally, how could Picoult string us along chapter after chapter after chapter as people in Jacob's life continually phrase questions in such a way that he is not forced to explain what happened??

Not to mention the fact that , as a person with Asperger's Jacob would have difficulty with turns of phrase, such as, 'get the picture' and 'what do you say?

And yet, Picoult continually tosses in phrases that seem to stray pretty far from the literal speech you would expect Jacob to use.

One of the first that I noticed was when Jacob mentions the Pythagorean theorem and how it was developed not by him, but by his ancestors Sounds like something of an odd turn of phrase to me. This happens on a number of occasions and I began to feel irritated by some of the narrative, thinking, this doesn't sound like something this kid should say. She seemed to flip flop on a lot of her 'symptoms'. Now, if Jacob had been consistently, painfully literal, it may have made for a really dull six hundred pages, but maybe, just maybe, it didn't need to be six hundred pages.

Somehow, Jacob's mother, who shoves her knowledge of Autism and Aspergers down the throats of everyone involved, never thinks that she should ask her son literal step by step questions about what went on the day he allegedly murdered his tutor.

Pfft, yeah right. That alone made this whole novel ridiculous.

Filled with a whole bunch of turmoil, angst, and wondering: How did my brother murder this girl? How did this happen The only reason this even gets two stars is because Jacob's story revolving around his treatment and his normal, high school life interested me.

I have researched Autism and Asperger's and have worked with children and adults with high and low functioning autism. Jacob was really the only character in this novel who had an excuse to make the mistakes presented. I pretty much wanted to punch every other character in the head. Rage complete. Good bye Jodi Picoult, this is the last time I will waste time on another one of your cookie cutter family crime dramas.

May 23, Julie rated it it was amazing Shelves: House Rules delivers everything Picoult fans have come to expect: Though formulaic, it does not disappoint.

Extremely bright, but lacking in social and communications skills, he attempts to define the way his mind works and his attempts to relate to people. His mother Emma and his brother Theo have struggled to cope with his disability, but when he is ar House Rules delivers everything Picoult fans have come to expect: His mother Emma and his brother Theo have struggled to cope with his disability, but when he is arrested for murder, their whole world comes crashing down. They struggle to convince the legal system that Jacob cannot stand trial like a normal individual.

He provides interesting facts and case histories, though it is this fixation and his inability to articulate his motives that ultimately gets him in trouble. View 2 comments.

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Aug 03, Kris Hilliard added it. As a mother of a child with autism, I was leery about reading this novel as it's probably every mother's worst nightmare to learn their 'normal' child committed a crime, but for those of us with children who cannot speak for themselves let alone defend their actions it is truly something I fear for him in the future.

I know enough of Picoult's writing to know there would be a twist to this story, but really did not expect the way it ended. She clearly did her research learning about Asbergers, P As a mother of a child with autism, I was leery about reading this novel as it's probably every mother's worst nightmare to learn their 'normal' child committed a crime, but for those of us with children who cannot speak for themselves let alone defend their actions it is truly something I fear for him in the future.

I look at my beautiful son and am slowly learning to appreciate that he is trapped in a mind that can't take it all in - and that he is a brilliant boy who just wants to fit in. I loved Emma and her character and her development.

She really spoke from the perspective of a parent with a child who 'has' autism. Think about it - if 1 our of 90 kids are diagnosed as being on the spectrum, those kids will grow into adults who may eventually enter our legal system. That is frightening, but realistic. I really applaud Jodi for doing her research and writing a fantastic novel.

I was so fearful of reading it - but oh so glad that I did. Feb 01, Barb rated it it was amazing Shelves: House Rules has everything I look for in good fiction. It's a superb, character-driven story that made me laugh, made me cry, and kept me intrigued until the very end. As with other Jodi Picoult novels, the author's extensive research allowed me to learn a great deal about a particular topic, in this case both autism specifically Asperger's and forensic science.

Many people criticize this book as being highly predictable. I disagree, mainly because I don't view it as a murder mystery. The auth House Rules has everything I look for in good fiction.

The author explains the circumstances surrounding Jess' death long before the trial is over so I don't see how the reader is 'predicting' the end. To me, the big question in this book is how does this young man with Asperger's Syndrome navigate his way through a legal system designed for non-autistic people and finally get through to those around him to keep himself out of prison, a fate that would surely destroy anyone with his condition. View all 4 comments. Mar 09, Marialyce rated it really liked it Shelves: The topic of Asperger's covered in this book is handled with precision and care.

You can't help feeling sorry for the entire family. They really gave up having a normal life for their son and brother. I did like the concept but did not feel the ending justified the many pages or thoughts put into this novel. The writing just seemed to stop and not give the reader much to think about.

That being said, it was a very worthwhile read. I mean I get that we can conclude in general what happened but I wish there had been more to it. There were a few potential outcomes that would have been intriguing to read about. A world of opportunity is a way to put it. I had to flop the pages at the end thinking some were missing. Heck, I was close to shaking the book for more pages to appear. Not a very satisfying ending because it did not feel finished.

The themes of Asperger's were covered in this book along with 3. The themes of Asperger's were covered in this book along with forensic science, and they were interesting reading material but this one was a bit predictable and not as enthralling as some of Picoult's other books.

I still enjoyed my reading experience though. My quick and simply overall: Mar 05, K. The plot is such a mess that I was continually wondering how the author was going to clean it all up at the end. There is no resolution of the main conflict. There is at least one mistake in the book, regarding a detail of how someone was dressed. In fact, much of my frustration with the story is that I was silently begging Jacob to just tell them what happened, and begging everyone else to just ASK him what happened.

Instead, what he does is tell what happened AFTER the major tragic event occurs, when all anyone needed to do was ask what preceded that. Of course, had they asked Jacob that question, there would have been no credible premise for a book, which come to think of it, may have been preferable.

Oct 04, Paul E. This was my first Jodi Picoult novel and I have to say that it sucked me in from the word go. I found all the characters interesting and likable for the most part , I found the story really engaging and thought the premise was built off a really good idea.

I found it very moving in places. Why only three stars, then? Well, for one, the pacing. It starts really well; for the first third of the book it jogs along at a brisk pace and I didn't get bored once. Then the middle section hit and it slowed This was my first Jodi Picoult novel and I have to say that it sucked me in from the word go. Then the middle section hit and it slowed right down to a crawl Picoult starts repeating expositionary information that we'd already covered earlier in the book, mainly on the nature of Asperger's, and then repeats it again.

I work with several people with Asperger's, so I was already very familiar with it, but even if I hadn't heard of it before I think I'd've got tired of the same info being repeated over and over. That would have knocked it down to a four. It lost another star because of the ending. Again, it's a pacing issue.

After many, many, many chapters of build-up To say the book doesn't have a satisfying conclusion would be a serious understatement. There's a big twist which, to be honest, I saw coming a mile off and then it just stops.

We hardly get any information about the results of said twist and the consequences for certain characters are barely touched upon. It's a shame, because there's so much that's good in this book I feel a bit like I'm drop-kicking a kitten, but the flaws are too big to ignore.

Jul 08, Heather rated it did not like it Shelves: I think I need to stop reading Picoult. I picked this up from the "new! As I was telling someone a few weeks ago, Picoult's books are fairly formulaic: Enter optional love interest for mother, which muddles things.

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Finish story with strange and unsatisfying twist that leaves the reader wondering why she invested several hours of time caring about these characters. Why did I think hope? When I read the first one, it was novel. Now that I've read all of them, I know that this is her schtick, and this book fits right in with the rest.

I'd love to read Picoult's take on other kinds of situations non-parenting, friendships, other kinds of relationships but I'm tired of the mothering books. You will never hear me say that Jodi Picoult is not a gifted writer. The amount of research she puts in very book is obvious every time. Her characters are realistically written — the good characters all have their flaws, the bad characters are profoundly douchey.

However, it really depends on the book for me. House Rules was a very pleasant surprise. That was by far the most interesting aspect of the story. At some points, I could really relate to Jacob. I especially race through the final part of her books, when the trials start. In other words: This is done to make you believe one thing at one point, and then have your world turned upside down when something else is revealed.

Which is why I was really frustrated with the ending. I can hardly believe I sat through pages just to end view spoiler [on an open ending. What the hell happened, guys? Did he get acquitted or not? Jul 23, Arah-Lynda rated it did not like it Shelves: I have read a great many Picoult books and I must say that so far, this one, is my least favourite of all.

In fairness Picoult has clearly researched Asperger's syndrome and goes to great lengths to ensure the reader also understands the symptoms and nuances of this type of autism and the impact it would have on a family, the community and society at large.

It is the rest of this story that fell flat for me. I found the plot to be unrealistic and largely predictable. I figured out what happened I have read a great many Picoult books and I must say that so far, this one, is my least favourite of all.

I figured out what happened before I was even a third of the way through the story. Even so I found the ending to be disappointing but perhaps that was because the entire tale was simply too contrived to be believed, which is truly unfortunate, especially since Picoult most often tackles, current, lesser known, sensitive and oft misunderstood, hence controversial issues. Had the story surrounding Jacob's Asperger's been more plausible and the plot more suspense filled, it would surely have served to further elevate the reader's ultimate understanding and acceptance of the subject matter.

That said, I did not buy it! Dec 20, Petra Eggs rated it it was ok Shelves: I swore I'd never read another Picoult books - they are so written to template, and the endings tend to be cop-outs.

But here I am with the latest one on my bedside table.

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My excuse is that I have Asperger's and I'm always interested to see how other people overcome the social problems. So far though, the book hasn't hooked me, its reading like a lecture on a kid with low-functioning Asperger's, a Rain-Man obsessive and brilliant character who can just about live in the world. It doesn't read li I swore I'd never read another Picoult books - they are so written to template, and the endings tend to be cop-outs.

It doesn't read like the majority of people you work with, but do not lunch with, those of us who can't read you. So what to say about the rest of the book?

It was stupid, a lot of basic questions weren't asked which made a bit of a mockery of the story and the ending, just for a change was exactly what you expected. Sadly, it seemed that Picoult ran out of steam and what could have been an enjoyable few pages or even a chapter, was reduced to a single explanation.

I bloody hate books with disappointing endings. I want my money back! View all 7 comments. Pati knygos istorija - nuostabi! Lygiai taip pat tiesiai jie ir atsako. Bet advokatai, prokurorai? Gavau tai? Tikrai ne. Mar 12, Thomas rated it it was amazing Shelves: House Rules is the story of teenager Jacob Hunt, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome. The disease is somewhat like autism, but on the higher end of the spectrum.

In fact, Jacob can dish out facts and has a higher IQ then most of the kids his age. However, his increased intellect comes with a price - he cannot relate to human emotion, and cannot understand what it means to love, hate, or even sympathize - even if he tries. All of a sudden Jacob is accused of a terrible murder. The shocking revel House Rules is the story of teenager Jacob Hunt, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome.

Must redeem within 90 days. See full terms and conditions and this month's choices. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children. Visit her website at JodiPicoult. Tell us what you like, so we can send you books you'll love. Sign up and get a free eBook! Mass Market Paperback. Price may vary by retailer.

Add to Cart Add to Cart. About The Book. House Rules 1 Emma 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. He is sprawled like a starfish in front of the fireplace.

Blood covers his temple and his hands. Suddenly, he sits up. I gingerly pick it up and see blood on the corner. With my pinkie, I touch the liquid and then taste it. 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.

Not hit them with an actual clock. Years ago, when we were moving to Vermont, he asked what it was like. Lots of green, I said, and rolling hills. At that, he burst into tears.

What about my sneakers? I hold him off with an outstretched arm. Do I make myself clear? A moment later I hear the door slam. I follow Jacob into the kitchen and watch him back into a corner. But try having a son who is locked in his own world and still wants to make a connection.

I reach out to comfort him but stop myself—a light touch can set Jacob off. It was sometime around two years old when he began to drop words, to stop making eye contact, to avoid connections with people.

House Rules | Book by Jodi Picoult | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster

One day I looked at him, lying on the floor beside a Tonka truck. He was spinning its wheels, his face only inches away, and I thought, Where have you gone? I made excuses for his behavior: The tags I had to cut out of his clothing were unusually scratchy. When he could not seem to connect with any children at his preschool, I organized a no-holds-barred birthday party for him, complete with water balloons and Pin the Tail on the Donkey. About a half hour into the celebration, I suddenly realized that Jacob was missing.

I was six months pregnant and hysterical—other parents began to search the yard, the street, the house. I was the one who found him, sitting in the basement, repeatedly inserting and ejecting a VCR tape. When he was diagnosed, I burst into tears. According to the psychiatrist we first met, Jacob suffered from an impairment in social communication and behavior, without the language deficit that was a hallmark of other forms of autism. I want my house back, Henry told me.

I want you back. But I had already noticed how, with the behavioral therapy and speech therapy, Jacob had begun to communicate again. I could see the improvement. The night Henry left, Jacob and I sat at the kitchen table and played a game. I made a face, and he tried to guess which emotion went with it. I smiled, even though I was crying, and waited for Jacob to tell me I was happy. Henry lives with his new family in the Silicon Valley.

He works for Apple and he rarely speaks to the boys, although he sends a check faithfully every month for child support.